Creating habitat for native bees

Bee and penstemon ©Janet Allen
Penstemon — a bee favorite

Societal-level practices (pesticides, loss of habitat etc.) are responsible for the decline of pollinators, but it's exciting to see that we've been able to make a difference even in our smallish yard.

We can't in our own yard directly provide habitat for most of the world's large creatures, but we can provide a sanctuary for native bees—some of the most important creatures in the world.

The first thing people wonder is "WHY create habitat for bees?"

Black and gold bumble bee ©Janet Allen
The beautiful, but uncommon, black and gold bumble bee

The second thing is "Aren't they too dangerous to have in our yards and in our communities? They might sting! They might even sting a child!!"

For many reasons (described in the pages mentioned), we're doing all we can for these native pollinators by providing:

Bumble bee on joe-pye ©Janet Allen
Joe-pye: a bumble bee favorite

We also:

And then there are all those other bees, such as carpenter bees, and bee-like creatures, such as wasps and hornets that people wonder (and worry) about.

It's also nice to know that when we provide habitat for our native bees, many other creatures (especially butterflies) benefit, too.

Cedar waxwing eating serviceberries ©Janet Allen
Cedar waxwing eating serviceberries

And where would all the animals who rely on fruits, nuts, and berries be without bees to pollinate these plants?

An amazing 75% - 80% of plants in the wild require pollination!

What about honey bees?

Swarm of bees ©Janet Allen
This swarm of honey bees landed in our neighbor's tree

Many people are surprised to learn that honey bees aren't native to this continent.

Yes, they produce honey, and they're also important—even required—in commercial agriculture where acres and acres of one kind of plant, such as almonds, must be pollinated all at the same time. (But is this kind of industrial agriculture sustainable? Probably not.)

Honey bees do visit our yard, but we focus on providing habitat for native bees, our underappreciated pollinators.

Still, when this swarm of honey bees arrived in our neighbor's yard, we helped him find a local beekeeper who came to capture them, a benefit to everyone concerned, including the bees.