Native Bees for Farmers, Lifestyle Block Owners, Fruit Growers and Gardeners!
Are you a farmer, lifestyle block owner, fruit grower or gardener thinking about native bees?
Even if you aren't, pretend for a moment and read what you can do to make your land more pollinator-friendly.
Leafcutter Bees and New Zealand Native solitary Bees are great pollinators.
Native bees can help pollinate your crop for free. All you have to do is provide a place for them to live, some food, and not spray them with pesticides. Even if you use honey bees for pollination, native bees can make your honey bees more efficient. Without native bees in the area, honey bees just fly a short distance to find food. Bees aren't supposed to be lazy, but they'll take the easiest path like anyone else. When native bees visit the same flowers, honey bees have to compete for food. That makes them fly further, visit more flowers, and do a more thorough job of pollination.
How to Make a Better Home for Native Bees
Leave an area for habitat. Most native bees (about 90% of native species) live in small holes in the ground or small holes in wood. A modest open space, untilled, will provide lots of homes for many kinds of native bees. Others will benefit from the provision of purpose made nesting habitat, such as a solitary bee houses or bumble bee nesting boxes helping provide extra habitat and increase populations.
Mow after the wildflowers bloom. Most people mow their margins, ditches, etc, when the wildflowers are at full bloom. That's because we notice the plants when the flowers bloom, and we think, "oh yeah, better mow that". But this is peak time for native bees to feed themselves. Wait for a week until the flowers fade - no seeds will form in that short time - and mow when the flowers are off-peak.
Say you have an apple orchard. Your apple flowers bloom in October, maybe November. What will your native beeseat during Dec, Jan, Feb? You could plant some summer flowers for them, or you could allow goldenrods and asters to bloom nearby. Just taking your bees into consideration when you think about mowing can make a big difference.
Or, say you have a field of pumpkins. What will your native bees eat in October and November, before the pumpkin flowers appear? You'll get better pollination in the pumpkins if you let those un-mown areas grow wild from spring until Dec, then mow when the pumpkin flowers appear.
Don't worry about killing the bees with the mower. They can see you coming and they can fly.
And have a closer look - you'll be amazed when you start to see how much activity there is in your wild flowers. If you just see bumblebees, look again. You'll also see lots of kinds of smaller bees, some green, some blue, some with yellow stripes, some just black, like small flies. Most people notice the bumblebees first, but then they start to see all the native bees that can help you for free.
BEE A POLLINATOR!
Creative Woodcraft Bee a pollinator is based on four simple principles: grow a variety of pollinator-friendly flowers, provide nest sites, avoid pesticides, and spread the word. Why these four principles?
1. Flowers provide the nectar and pollen resources that pollinators feed on. Growing the right flowers, shrubs, and trees with overlapping bloom times will support pollinators from spring through fall.
2. A place to lay eggs and for larvae to grow is essential to pollinators. You can install Solitary Bee Houses andBumble Bee Nesting Boxes on your property (or simply leave patches of bare ground, brush piles, and snags for native bees to occupy) and make homes for caterpillars by growing host plants and provide Butterfly Feeders/ Shelters for butterflies found in your area.
3. Pesticides are harmful to pollinators. This is especially true for insecticides (including some approved for organic use), but herbicides can reduce food sources for pollinators by removing flowers from the landscape.
4. Talking to your neighbours or friends about the importance of pollinators and their habitat will encourage more people to join in, which will help pollinators even more.
With these core values, pollinator conservation can be adapted to any location, whether you tend an urban community garden or a suburban yard, work in a city park or on a farm.
Do your Part to conserve pollinators!
BEE A POLLINATOR!
Yes the native bees do a great job and as a seed grower i certainly make sure i provide places where the likes of the Lasioglossum spp and leioproctus sp species can build there nests,spraying out an area of soil and keeping bare means i have 1000's of them each season.
What a wonderful read! I have grown quite a number of fruit trees with bees in mind and now I am slowly getting a collection of flowers ready to plant also for this purpose. I don't have a beehive as yet but I have been trying to prepare my paddock for this soul purpose. Thank you for posting this Richard. :O)