Bees and butterflies play an essential part in pollinating food crops like fruits and vegetables. Eighty percent of insect pollinators are honey bees.11 Populations of bees are being threatened by issues such as colony collapse disorder, pesticides, mites, disease and drought. What can Americans do to help these wonderful creatures thrive?
1. BEE friendly to bees! Honey bees are not aggressive; they sting only as a defense mechanism.
2. Plant trees, shrubs and flowering plants to increase food and shelter for bees and butterflies.
3. Create a seasonal buffet for pollinators by planting perennial flowers with a mix of colors, shapes and scents in containers, window boxes and plant beds.
4. Choose perennials with single rather than multiple flower heads to make nectar and pollen more accessible to bees and butterflies.
5. Cut and use garden flowers for bouquets to encourage re-blooming and prolong the foraging window for pollinators.
6. Use beautiful native plants such as Echinacea, Coreopsis, Sunflowers and Butterfly Milkweed for at least 75 percent of your garden.
7. Water, weed and fertilize soil appropriately to create a healthy garden that minimizes pests and diseases.
8. Provide clean water for insects in shallow bowls, birdbaths and ponds, or let fresh water drip over stones.
9. Imperfection is OK! Bees and butterflies may damage leaves and flowers while breeding and feeding. Create areas of natural habitat with old stumps, fallen branches and tall grass for nesting.