Pollinators and Flowers

This was originally published on Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens.

In North America hummingbirds pollinate, in the southwest bats pollinate,  but most of all, insects pollinate. By far the most popular garden pollinators are hummingbirds and butterflies, but there are many other beautiful (in a less traditional way) pollinators including flies, bees, moths and beetles.

Many pollinators visit flowers for the nectar, such as butterflies, ants and honeybees, however many insects, including bumble bees and lady beetles, visit for the pollen, which they consume. Many plants have evolved different shapes and colors of flowers to attract certain types of pollinators. There’s a great episode about flowering plants in the wonderful David Attenborough show The Private Life of Plants, and you can see a clip of that episode here.

Pollinator Flowers

Hummingbird flowers have evolved into tubular shapes so that the bird, with their long bills, can…

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National Pollinator Week:: Roundup of Posts

Today marks the beginning of National Pollinator Week, a good time to think about pollinators. Many posts from The Metropolitan Field Guide have focused on pollinators, so to begin Pollinator Week, here is a roundup of the posts. Once you learn about pollinators, visit Pollinator Design and Butterfly and Moth Design for many resources to learn how to design for pollinators. (more…)

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Attracting and Raising Mason Bees

As honeybee populations suffer from colony collapse disorder, some people are looking to our native bees to see how they can fill in. Dave Hunter from Crown Bees is one of those people. I recently took a class from him about raising mason bees and learned a great deal about why we should raise mason bees and how to do it successfully. The following information comes from that class as well as the thoroughly informative Crown Bees website.

Why Blue Orchard Bees

Groups like Crown Bees as well as individuals, are investigating the use of native pollinators to assist where the honeybees are failing. They have created the Orchard Bee Association to bring their knowledge together to “team on research, development, pollination methodologies, and health practices”.

The focal species, the Blue Orchard Bee (Osmia lignaria), has certain benefits over the honeybee such as foraging in the…

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Pollinator Pathway: bringing pollinators to a Seattle neighborhood

The Pollinator Pathway is planned along a one-mile stretch in Seattle from Seattle University to Nora’s Woods replacing grass strips with pollinator gardens. The brainchild and creation of Sarah Bergmann, the Pollinator Pathway currently consists of two installed gardens with another 16 planned and has 20 total homeowners signed up to participate. I visited one of the gardens where Sarah was kind enough to meet me and tell me all about this fascinating project. The first garden was installed in July of 2008 after much planning and work and has been a great start with a lot learned. The gardens are created for the space between the sidewalk and the street and range in size from 4′ to 12′ wide and for the most part are currently grass.

At one end is Seattle University which has been a supporter of the project, themselves having a number…

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Honey Bee Haven

Set to open to the public on September 11 of this year is the winning design of the Häagen-Dazs-UC Davis Honey Bee Haven Design Competition located at the Honey Bee Research Facility on the UC Davis campus. The winning team from Sausalito, CA was made up of a variety of professionals including landscape architects, exhibit planners and an interpretive planner. The health of honey bee colonies has been of concern recently in part due to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). While they aren’t a native species, they are economically important because they pollinate over 100 agricultural crops valued at $15 billion. Their economic impact is highlighted by the fact that more corporations are taking an interest in the value of ecosystem services and sponsoring competitions such as this. The Honey Bee Haven garden is just the first in a series of planned, interconnected gardens at UC Davis, each…

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Not Your Traditional Nest Box

When we talk about a nest box we usually envision a wooden structure, often in the shape of a human house, hanging from a tree in the backyard. However, if you talked about a nest box in the UK, they may have a different idea. The RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) has a page on their website about nestboxes for the roof. The swifts found in Europe, Apus apus are listed by the RSPB as amber status, which means they’re birds of concern because they’re numbers have plummeted in the last decade. While the reasons for their decline aren’t entirely clear,  speculation is that a significant aspect is a loss of nesting sites. Like some other birds, the swifts have come to rely on human structures for their nesting needs, but in the UK some established colonies have been lost due to…

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