Include insect-pollinated valuable crop trees, like yellow tulip poplar, maple, basswood, and black cherry, in the overstory to benefit pollinators.
Help Honey Bees and Bumblebees by Grey Duck Garlic
Some cultivated understory plants, such as ginseng, goldenseal, or black cohosh, may also benefit from pollinators. For example, black cohosh generally relies on bumble bees for pollination, but it does not produce nectar to attract the bees. It must rely on nearby prolific nectar producers, such as pale touch-me-not or whiteflower leafcup, to attract the bees. The pollination of these different forest understory plants is not well understood, but pollinators should be encouraged.
Other sites, such as existing natural habitat, field and road edges, drainage ditches, land around buildings, and fields that are too wet or too dry for crop production, also provide convenient, underutilized places to cultivate bee forage. Wherever possible, consider how to include trees that provide pollen and nectar for bees see Table 1. Around and under each tree provide a diversity of plants that, together, produce continuous, abundant flowers. For the maximum benefit to pollinators, as well as ease of implementation, consider the following criteria:. Locally native plants are generally well-adapted to an area's growing conditions; can thrive with minimum attention; are good sources of nectar and pollen for native bees; and are usually not "weeds.
Flowers with a diversity of shapes, sizes, and colors will support the greatest variety of crop pollinators. Alternative, specialty crops provide a product for landowners and are also great for pollinators. For example, berry-producing shrubs such as blueberries and raspberries, ornamental plants such as curly willow and red twig dogwood, medicinal plants such as goldenseal, and hardwoods such as black cherry and maple all provide a harvestable crop as well as pollen and nectar for bees. Highly invasive plant species are aggressive and can spread to dominate other species; will reduce the diversity and value of the habitat; and will increase maintenance.
Check with your county for code restrictions on noxious weed species. Post signs and educate others. It is important to make sure that farm staff, neighbors, and county road and electric crews know about the habitat. Signs help educate others about what is happening on the farm and, potentially, encourage them to do similar work. Eventually replace mulch. Weed control and irrigation in drier climates is often needed to establish new agroforestry plantings. While mulch helps conserve water and control weeds, it may also prevent ground-nesting bees from accessing the soil surface. After trees are established, consider replacing mulch with an understory of bunch grasses or flowering forbs, which will help control weeds and, at the same time, provide opportunities for solitary bees to construct ground nests.
Farming For Bees
Minimize herbicide use. If herbicides are necessary to control noxious weeds, only spot treat weeds and completely avoid important flowering plants. The best way to attract and support a healthy pollinator population is to ensure a rich, diverse plant community. Agroforestry practices can help provide this rich source of pollen and nectar. In return, an abundance and variety of insect pollinators will yield a fertile and productive landscape. It is important to consult with local native plant experts to develop a list of plants with overlapping bloom times.
Hoffman Black. Wild pollinators in Wisconsin apple orchards. July This is a brochure from our lab giving an overview of the wild bee pollinators found in apple orchards with guidelines on how to conserve them. Wisconsin Monarch Conservation Partnership. A statewide consortium of organizations dedicated to conserving the monarch butterfly.
Citizen-science monitoring project for Wisconsin bumble bees launched The basics: Bees need three things to survive: food, shelter, and protection from pesticides.
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The resources listed below provide detailed information for how you can provide these resources whether you are a farmer, gardener, or homeowner. Their Pollinator Conservation Resource Center website provides region specific plant lists and conservation strategies. Below are several specific publications they have produced that you may find useful. Mader, E. Nabhan is an internationally-celebrated nature writer, seed saver, conservation biologist and sustainable agriculture activist who has been called "the father of the local food movement" by Utne Reader, Mother Earth News, Carleton College and Unity College.
Gary is also an orchard-keeper, wild forager, and Ecumenical Franciscan brother in his hometown of Patagonia, Arizona.
He is author or editor of twenty-four books, including authoring The Forgotten Pollinators and editor of Migratory Pollinators and Their Nectar Corridors. For his writing and collaborative conservation work, he has been honored with a MacArthur "genius" award, a Southwest Book Award, the John Burroughs Medal for nature writing, the Vavilov Medal, and lifetime achievement awards from the Quivira Coalition and Society for Ethnobiology. The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation is an international nonprofit organization that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat.
The Society's Pollinator Conservation Program was launched in , and works with leading native pollinator ecologists to translate the latest research findings into on-the-ground conservation. More information about the Xerces Society is available at www.
In this section
Intended Audience The content of this course is tailored to the needs of NRCS, SWCD, Cooperative Extension, and state department of agriculture employees, as well as crop consultants, producers of bee-pollinated crops, natural resource specialists, and non-governmental conservation organization staff. Join the Xerces Society's E-newsletter List.
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