Want to bee good to pollinators at home and in your community? Make a difference and help the insects, birds and bats we need to feed our planet. Get involved in pollinator activities and initiatives where you live. Invite your family and friends too! Here are some simple and fun things you can do to help pollinators.
Be a citizen scientist
Take part in a citizen science project that focuses on pollinators and their host plants. Examples include Nature’s Notebook, Project Budburst, Monarch Watch and many others. Some of these programs take place at national wildlife refuges. Contact your local national wildlife refuge to get involved as a volunteer or as a member of their Friends group.
Include the kids
Pollinator projects are great learning opportunities for scout troops, school groups and other youth clubs. We have a guide for creating schoolyard habitat projects. Also, see tools and resources available for kids through the Pollinator Partnership to bring pollinators to schools from the elementary grades on up.
Explore some of the many free or inexpensive online apps and guides that can help in identifying butterflies, birds, beetles and more.
Plant a pollinator garden
Nearly every patch of green space can help sustain pollinators with nectar and pollen to eat. Why not tend a patch yourself? You don't need a large plot of land. If you don’t have a backyard, a balcony will do. Just add a pot of coneflowers or marigolds.
To attract a variety of pollinators, include a selection of plants native to your region. Pollinators need a variety of nectar and pollen sources. Check field guides to find out which plants local caterpillars eat. Search online to find pollinator-friendly plants for your area. Contact your local or state native plant society for help. Your local agricultural extension service is also a good resource. Other resources for native plants include finding your local native plant supplier or a resident horticulturalist to answer questions.
Be on the lookout for pollinator nesting sites
Pollinators such as bees and hummingbirds need places to nest as well as plants to feed on.
Hummingbirds use plant materials such as mosses and lichen and even spider webs to build their tiny nests off the ground in trees and shrubs. Hummingbird nests are hard to spot because they are so small and very camouflaged as protection from other wildlife.
Many native bees are ground nesters and they need well-drained bare soil to create their homes called burrows. You can help by leaving a small patch of well-drained bare ground at the edge of your lawn for ground-nesting bees. These bees love areas that face south to get the most sun possible during the day and they don’t like to get drenched by sprinklers.
Other native bees are cavity nesters and make their homes in dead wood or brush. You can help by leaving plant stems, fallen logs or stumps for bees, beetles and flies to use for nesting if it’s not a safety hazard. Allow some twigs and leaf litter to remain where they fall to provide overwinter shelter for many insect pollinators. Some bees will nest in artificial nesting sites and there are lots of videos and guides on the internet to show you how to build a “bee hotel.”
Avoid or limit pesticide use
Make pesticides your last option in battling weeds and crop and garden pests. Try these steps first.
Take no action and accept some pest damage.
Wear garden gloves and hand-trim or remove pest-infested plants, weeds and insect pests.
Use mechanical controls such as machine tilling, aerating, cutting, or digging.
Cultivate healthy growing habits. Use clean weed-free and insect-free mulch. Create beneficial insect habitat. Rotate garden crops from year to year. Water the garden as needed, not on a schedule. Choose plants that have not been treated with pesticides.
Grow organically to encourage native pest predators such as lacewings and lady beetles to keep the pests in check.
Use your buying power to support pollinator health by reducing the use of pesticides that can harm pollinators and people too. Support local organic farmers and look for organic food, beverages and products at the supermarket and from your favorite online stores.
Don’t forget about organic textiles. Natural fibers, such as cotton, wool and flax can be used to make countless products including clothing, bedding, toys, furniture and much more. Body care products and cosmetics, pet food and pet products are all available in organic varieties too.
The key to getting involved in pollinator conservation is to start with wonder and appreciation. Then invite your family, friends, and neighbors to join you too!