Pollinator Month is a special time for Harlequin’s Gardens – a time when we celebrate the hard work of bees (honeybees, solitary bees, bumblebees) wasps, ants, flies and bee flies, butterflies and moths, beetles, some bats and birds, and some mammals. They’re all around us, connecting the dots between flowers and food.
Come check out our special pollinator display, which is our whole facility! The descriptive signage on most of our plants is marked with bee, hummingbird, and butterfly icons, and you might notice that almost everything is important to bees, of which we have over 500 species here in Boulder County alone. Even our native bunch grasses can provide nesting sites for bumblebees in the dried leaves at the bottom.
The best ways to help pollinators are:
1. PROVIDE SAFE FORAGE. First, at Harlequin’s Gardens our plants are all neonicotinoid-free. Neonicotinoids are widely-used systemic insecticides that circulate through the entire plant, including nectar and pollen, which are collected by bees for food. Bees, with their fuzzy bodies and need for pollen for their baby food are the best pollinators. Neonicotinoids are nerve toxins to which bees are very sensitive, and are implicated in Honeybee Colony Collapse. If you don’t know whether harmful pesticides have been applied, you don’t know whether your plants are safe from pollinators.
2. STOP USING PESTICIDES, especially insecticides and fungicides. This doesn’t mean that your plants have to look scraggly; Harlequin’s has non-toxic pest-management alternatives and alternative plants that are less prone to pest problems. If you use a lawn care company, chat with them about what they’re using and ask them to use only non-toxic products on your property.
3. PROVIDE SAFE HABITAT. This includes not only safe pesticide free plants that keep your garden blooming all season, but nesting habitat as well. About 75% of our native bees live in the ground in plain-old Colorado dirt. Leave some small areas bare and un-mulched for them. For the remaining cavity nesters, we have clean culture materials like replaceable tube liners for (next year’s) mason bees and variety packs for other species.
4. ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO DO THE SAME. This includes your neighbors, HOAs, City and County lands, roadsides, and right of ways. We have pollinator plant lists you can show others to give them ideas.
Our plants are adapted to our local environment. This means that they’re ‘happier’ here and require less chemical and water input. We carry many plants from ground covers to trees, among them Nepeta (catmint) and Helianthus (sunflower), that will provide for pollinators in general, as well as some plants visited by bee specialists, for example Sphaeralcea (mallow) and Oenothera (evening primrose). Even our own-root roses, selected for our climate and soils, are good for pollinators. As a rule of thumb, if you can see the stamens, so can the bees.
Ask for our pollinator plant lists to help you shop, or prepare in advance by viewing these plant lists, Plants to Support Pollinators (Honeybees, Wild Bees, Butterflies, etc.) and Plants for Pollinators.
OTHER RESOSURCES INCLUDE:
- Pollinator Partnership
- Xerces Society
- USDA Utah Pollinating Insects Lab
- Project Apis m.
- Rewilding: Pollinator Pathways
Honeybees aren’t practical for everyone, but our native, mostly solitary bees did ALL the bee-pollinating in the Americas before the introduction of honeybees from Europe in the 1600s. They love our weather, soils, and native plants. And we love them! We offer a selection of products to help you culture some of these gentle hole nesting bees where you live, including mason bees and leafcutter bees. Did you know that re-using old nesting tubes or blocks drilled with holes can promote diseases and parasites? We’ve partnered with Crown Bees to bring you responsible, sustainable, clean culture methods, based on the needs of the bees.
Here’s a sample of the items we’re offering.
Native Bee Chalet
For placing nesting tubes for the current season and an attic for placing the previous season’s bees to emerge in the current season.
Reusable cardboard mason bee tubes with disposable paper liners
For those interested in spring mason bees. Pollinator Pack: Tubes in an assortment of sizes and materials provide nesting holes for a variety of our native bees.
Native Bee Guide Booklet
A brief introduction to just some of the bee species that may nest in your native bee house.
See more ways to celebrate Pollinator (Week) Month.