4. Provide Shelter and Nesting Sites for Pollinators
There are many ways to provide shelter and nesting plants for pollinators. One simple way is by providing uncompacted bare soil for ground nesting native bees. 70% of native bees nest in the ground. Consider using compost or shredded leaves for mulching instead of wood bark mulch and avoid tilling in the early spring to help ground nesting bee species. Solitary bees such as leafcutter bees and mason bees need cavities to nest in dead wood, hollow stems, or brush piles. Cavity nesting bees will use the dried stem and twigs from the previous years’ growth in plants with pithy stems such as Joe Pye weed, giant ironweed, and elderberry. Leaving the dead branches is best, but if you do cut them wait as late in the spring as possible giving the bees more time to emerge. If you do cut the branches, you can gather them into small bundles and hang them under a sheltered area to make a small “bee hotel” for future nesting bees to use. Be sure that one end of the stem is closed, bees will not use a stem that is open at both ends.
Bumble bees are social nesters that create small colonies in cavities above or below ground. Building a brush pile is one of the best things you can do for bumble bees to nest, as they like to use abandoned burrows created by small mammals to nest in. During the wintertime, it’s important to provide pollinators and other insects with food and shelter in the form of fall leaves and dead plant material. Raking up and bagging your leaves is taking away essential food and shelter for butterflies, bees, moths, and many other beneficial insects. If you have to remove the leaves from your lawn, make a leaf pile in a corner of your yard or use it as mulch in your garden, a pollinator will thank you for it! #Leavetheleave