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Landscape Management for Pollinators

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Global insect decline is bad news for our ecosystems and livelihoods. We need bees and other pollinators to help plants reproduce and make the fruits, nuts, and seeds that are important to our own diets and those of other wildlife. This page links to resources for those who want to create habitat for bees and other pollinators–whether you’re working with a few square feet on a balcony, or hundreds of acres.

Floral resources

Adult bees drink nectar and eat a little bit of pollen to fuel their own activities. In addition, female bees collect large amounts of pollen that they carry back to their nest to feed their young. Flowers are a key part of pollinator habitat, but it’s not always easy to choose what to plant, or to prepare a site for a successful planting. Here are some resources to help you plan a pollinator planting.

NC Pollinator Toolkit from the NC Botanical Garden – most useful for larger scale plantings using seed mixes

Other lists of resources 

Nesting habitat

Nesting habitat is a key consideration for bees–more so than for other many other insects. Bees construct nests where they rear their young, and only forage within a certain distance from that nest. That’s unlike butterflies and flies, which lay eggs here and there as they move through the landscape. So for an area to provide habitat for bees, it has to include both floral resources AND nesting resources.

Most bees nest in the soil (about 75% of species in North Carolina). Some (about 18%) nest in hollow plant stems or deadwood. A few–mostly bumble bees–nest in an array of cavities like bird houses, rodent burrows, and wall voids.

Soil nesting bees

See this excellent web page on Growing Small Farms about ground-nesting bees.

Stem and wood nesters

How to manage a successful bee hotel

Plant stems can provide nesting habitat for bees

Carpenter bees are among the few that actively drill their own holes in wood.

Bumble bees

Managing non-honey bees for agriculture 

Managing alternative pollinators: A handbook for beekeepers, growers and conservationists (includes free pdf)