Attracting Pollinators

Do you dream of having or have a garden, flower pots or orchard that you want to see succeed? One very important step should be to attract pollinators, like birds, bees
and flies - get these creatures working for you! Here are some tips on inviting them to your neighbourhood!

What is a pollinator?
A pollinator is the ‘agent’ responsible for plant reproduction, transferring pollen from

plant to plant. Almost 90% of flowering plants need pollinators to reproduce.

In B.C., pollinators can be any of variety of creatures, including insects such as

bees, flies, beetles, butterflies, and birds, but the vast majority of pollinators are bees.

 

 

What are the benefits of attracting pollinators?

Pollinators enable the process of pollination, of the transfer of pollen from one flower to another, which is essential for many plants to reproduce.

Pollinators are needed to create one third of the food we eat (nuts, fruit, vegetables and herbs). Plants that require insect pollination are also important sources of food for wildlife. There are many other added benefits of attracting pollinators:

  • Many pollinators, such as hover flies and wasps, can help control unwanted pests.

  • Attracting a variety of pollinators increases the
    biological diversity of your garden, yard, acreage, farm and/or community.

  • Some native bees tunnel in the soil, thus improving soil quality through nutrient mixing and water movement.

  • Quality of life! Having flowers around all spring,
    summer and autumn is a joy, and having beautiful
    butterflies and colourful native bees visit makes it even more fun.

TIPS FOR ATTRACTING INSECT POLLINATORS

Use local native plants when possible

Native pollinators are essential to the reproduction of native flowering plants and vice versa. Native plants also offer the benefit that they are adapted to our climate and probably require less watering and care. Some introduced plants are great food sources for our pollinators, but it is wise to distinguish between well-behaved introduced species and invasive plant species. It is recommended that you visit your local plant nursery to source native and noninvasive introduced plants that will be beneficial to pollinators. Native plants may, unfortunately, be harder to source, so if you are able to plant a diverse garden that includes ‘bee-friendly’ noninvasive plants, regardless of origin, you are off to a good start.

In the Okanagan, examples of local nurseries that sell native and xeriscape plants include:

Sagebrush Nursery (Oliver)

Grasslands Nursery (Summerland)

Wild Blooms (Kelowna)

Dusty Shovels (Vernon).

 

One great way to choose plants that pollinators like is to spend a few minutes at a nursery or garden centre and watch which plants the bees are visiting.

 

Choose several colours and shapes of flowers

By choosing a diversity of flowering plants, the chance of attracting a wider range of pollinators increases. Not all pollinators are attracted to the same coloured or shaped flower as not all feeding parts are alike or the same size:


To attract butterflies and day moths: plant blue, violet and red flowers that are open and deeper and plants that can host their caterpillar stage


To attract beetles: plant open bowl shaped flowers


To attract night moths: plant light coloured (white, cream or pale green) flowers that are strongly sweet scented


To attract bees: plant any plant with abundant pollen and nectar, difference in shape and size of flowers, just means difference in the shapes and sizes of bees that you attract


To attract hummingbirds: plant brightly coloured flowers that are tubular shaped - it’s great if they droop or hang

Plant flowers in clumps

Pollinators benefit from less fragmentation between pollination stops, this means hey don’t need to do as much flying to find enough food. Large clumps of an excellent food item also mean it’s easier for a pollinator to learn how to get resources because they are just learning about one flower type at a time.

Have a diversity of plants flowering all season

Important for pollinator insects, in particular, is providing a variety of plants that will offer a progression of blooms throughout the season. Most bees are generalists, feeding on a variety of plants and many species of pollinators arrive at varied times throughout the season, but all require flowers to survive.

Plant where pollinators will visit

Insect pollinators prefer sun to shade and areas that are not windy. For butterflies, the location is ideal if there is also a source of soil moisture.

Enhance pollinator habitat

Not only do pollinators require flowers for pollen and nectar, many benefit from additions to the landscape such as:


• Shallow water baths for drinking
• Muddy areas for nutrients and/or nesting materials gathering
• Leave debris (leaves, twigs, logs, shrubs) in the garden or yard for nesting and over-wintering habitat.

Avoid using pesticides whenever possible

Most pesticides are non-selective and may actually harm the beneficial insects you are trying to attract5. Even low levels of pesticides, especially neonicotinoids, CAN affect bee longevity, memory, navigation and foraging abilities.

RESOURCES

Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship Restoration of pond in fruit tree orchard

CONTACT US FOR A FREE SITE VISIT OR FOR A PAPER COPY OF THIS BROCHURE

Okanagan Similkameen stewardship species and spaces

SPECIES & SPACES RESOURCE LIBRARY

Okanagan Invasive Species Hound's Tongue

INVASIVE SPECIES

Keywords

agriculture

stewardship

sustainable agriculture

environment

conservation

 
 
 

EXAMPLES OF PLANTS THAT MAY ATTRACT INSECT POLLINATORS

Spring:

  • Arrowleaf balsamroot*  (photo 1)

  • Kinnick kinnick*

  • Larkspur*

  • Mock orange*  (photo 2)

  • Nodding onion*

  • Oregon-grape*

  • Red osier dogwood*

  • Sandbar willow (not weeping willows)*

  • Saskatoon*

  • Lilac

  • Edible fruit trees (cherry, apricot, plum)

Summer:

  • Yarrow*

  • Showy aster*

  • Ocean spray*

  • Silky lupin*

  • Big basin sage*

  • Brown-eyed susan*  (photo 3)

  • Herbs (eg oregano, spearmint, rosemary)

  • Lavender

  • Sage  (photo 4)

  • Snowberry (Symphoricarpos)*

Autumn:

  • Parsnip flowered buckwheat*

  • Rabbit-brush*

  • Snow buckwheat*

  • Goldenrod (solidago)*

  • Hollyhock

  • Sedum

 

 

* Native, naturally occurring in the Okanagan

IT'S HARD TO BEE-LIEVE...

Our native bees do not produce honey in quantities that humans would find
fulfilling, they rarely sting, and many are solitary, but others are social, like all of
our bumblebees. The production of honey is done by honey bees, which are
native to Europe. Native bees are the MOST COMMON pollinators in
Canada and have been estimated to contribute to the value of Canadian crop
yields at 1.2 billion dollars/year.


There are over 800 species of native bees in Canada.


There are an estimated 300-350 species of bees in the Okanagan-Similkameen,
we live in a bee HOT SPOT!


Bees are looking for plants that can provide them with two things:
1. Nectar: as it is loaded with sugar and provides them with energy, and
2. Pollen: as it provides protein and fats to balance out their diet

 

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We acknowledge that our initiatives take place primarily on the traditional, unceded territories of the Syilx/Okanagan people.

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