2021 Pollinators Project

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gggvan

Member
Dec 6, 2012
120
Ok, so last year I started to design an area of my yard adjacent to the planting plots for pollinators. This area gets full sun from dawn to 3/4 depending on time of year. I was able to get a free truck load of fresh wood chips that I scattered over the whole area, ~12" thick to kill the grass/weeds over the winter. Last year I transplanted all my perennial bushes/plants to the area, I planted/marked a bunch of bulbs, lilies, etc. I have another 3'/30' strip on the other side of plots that I can use, maybe early (april) blooms, phlox, etc.

I also built a 6x3 raised box for wildflowers/bulbs in front of the plots.

pics later
 

semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
4,043
SW Virginia
Pollinators need all the help they can get.
I'm pretty excited about a clover-grass mix lawn we planted last year. The bees should love it this year. Our neighbors have bees and promise some honey in-kind.
Looking forward to your photos.
 
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gggvan

Member
Dec 6, 2012
120
Thanks. I have 6 "bee bushes" out front. Very fragrant, profuse white blooms, ~3/4" wish i could get more. May try splitting one. Bees are all over them from late May to Oct.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
88,906
South Puget Sound, WA
I used to keep bees so our yard is widely planted with hundreds of bee and bird friendly plants. This year I have added a couple of annual bee pollinator flower beds. The flower plants in them are just sprouting now.
 

gggvan

Member
Dec 6, 2012
120
I'm also thinking of a water feature, 75-100 gl. Would it be better to position it in middle of the area or off to the side, under trees.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
88,906
South Puget Sound, WA
I suspect there are benefits to each location. If it is in a shadier location, then it will be closer to cover for the bird. Some are too cautious to fly out in the open out of concern about predators. They like to be able to dash into a bush at a moment's notice. However, that will mean more frequent cleaning as stuff drops and gets blown off the trees into the water area. This the advantage of it being out in the open. Be sure to include bee-friendly places that make it easy for them to drink. I keep a couple of stones in the bird bath for this purpose.
 

gggvan

Member
Dec 6, 2012
120
I suspect there are benefits to each location. If it is in a shadier location, then it will be closer to cover for the bird. Some are too cautious to fly out in the open out of concern about predators. They like to be able to dash into a bush at a moment's notice. However, that will mean more frequent cleaning as stuff drops and gets blown off the trees into the water area. This the advantage of it being out in the open. Be sure to include bee-friendly places that make it easy for them to drink. I keep a couple of stones in the bird bath for this purpose.

I have a separate bird bath over by a stand of 7' bamboo, small birds can quickly scuttle under and get lost in the thick stalks. This new water source would be for butterflies/bees/dragon flies, hb's. I was thinking a long, shallow pond like form with sloping banks to land on.
 

semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
4,043
SW Virginia
You'll get more algae growth and water heating with more sunlight too. In a small pool, the heating can be significant and detrimental.
 

FramerJ

New Member
Mar 18, 2021
27
Missouri
I planted Bee Balm plants a couple years ago around my garden and berry bushes. Bees are all over those throughout the summer. Plus they are very aromatic.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
88,906
South Puget Sound, WA
You'll get more algae growth and water heating with more sunlight too. In a small pool, the heating can be significant and detrimental.
Yes, keeping the water fresh will require flow. One option might be to design it so that the outflow waters a flower/vegetable bed. Our bird bath is fed in the summer with a dribbler from our drip irrigation system. I blast it clean with the garden hose usually once or twice a week.
 

MoDoug

Minister of Fire
Feb 3, 2018
583
NE Missouri
Definitely not trying to hijack your post, this does touch on pollinators. I posted in the wood shed forum a couple weeks ago asking about bees and my firewood, and it turns out they are mason bees, also known as the Blue Orchard Bee. They are native and a very beneficial pollinator, they've turned my wood stacks into nests by laying their eggs in the wood borer tunnels, the larvae develop and eventually emerge the next spring. I noticed them last year and gave them no mind, they appeared again this spring and curiosity brought awareness of them. The problem is I will eventually want to burn this wood, but probably not until the winter of 2022. I'm thinking about making some nesting blocks and placing them near the wood, hopefully they will take to them and I can keep them around. I'm going to feel bad about burning that wood, knowing there's bee nests inside..

Now I need to consider bee friendly flowers, and this post is giving me some ideas. They are vital to our environment.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
88,906
South Puget Sound, WA
Definitely provide them a new home asap and consider getting some pheromone spray to attract them to it.
 
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semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
4,043
SW Virginia
Definitely not trying to hijack your post, this does touch on pollinators. I posted in the wood shed forum a couple weeks ago asking about bees and my firewood, and it turns out they are mason bees, also known as the Blue Orchard Bee. They are native and a very beneficial pollinator, they've turned my wood stacks into nests by laying their eggs in the wood borer tunnels, the larvae develop and eventually emerge the next spring. I noticed them last year and gave them no mind, they appeared again this spring and curiosity brought awareness of them. The problem is I will eventually want to burn this wood, but probably not until the winter of 2022. I'm thinking about making some nesting blocks and placing them near the wood, hopefully they will take to them and I can keep them around. I'm going to feel bad about burning that wood, knowing there's bee nests inside..

Now I need to consider bee friendly flowers, and this post is giving me some ideas. They are vital to our environment.
Check this out if you haven't already. The correct diameter tubes placed strategically with probably draw the bees away from your cordwood.
 
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MoDoug

Minister of Fire
Feb 3, 2018
583
NE Missouri
@begreen and @semipro , good advice from both of you. I'm going to make my own nest boxes, and hang in solid places as recommended. The pheromone spray is a very good idea. They are a gift from nature, I have been entrusted to take care of them. I'll have to give updates on this project.
 

gggvan

Member
Dec 6, 2012
120
You'll get more algae growth and water heating with more sunlight too. In a small pool, the heating can be significant and detrimental.
good point. i think i'll experiment this year with something under the tree line.
 

gggvan

Member
Dec 6, 2012
120
the part on the left is the pollinator area, i will slowly replace the wood chips with more plantings, hardscape features, sitting bench etc.
 

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gggvan

Member
Dec 6, 2012
120
first butterfly (on the phlox) and bumblebee seen this morning. a white one. although we have many bees on the blooming andromedas out front.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
88,906
South Puget Sound, WA
@begreen and @semipro , good advice from both of you. I'm going to make my own nest boxes, and hang in solid places as recommended. The pheromone spray is a very good idea. They are a gift from nature, I have been entrusted to take care of them. I'll have to give updates on this project.
One thing to watch out for is the dreaded Houdini Fly. This is a tiny type of fruit fly, but with red eyes. It will go into a MB chamber as the MB is preparing the pollen ball for her egg to be laid. H-fly lays eggs on the pollen ball before the chamber is closed up by the clay wall. The developing H-fly eggs hatch which become maggots to eat the pollen ball thus starving the developing MB larva. Not good. Check to see if they are showing up in your area.
https://wastatedeptag.blogspot.com/2020/02/houdini-fly.html

www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEmqw1sCX_U
 

MoDoug

Minister of Fire
Feb 3, 2018
583
NE Missouri
I want to post more about my mason bees, as they've become their own project, and figured it should be in it's own post. Otherwise I feel like I'm hijacking @gggvan's.

 

walhondingnashua

Feeling the Heat
Jul 23, 2016
391
ohio
What a great idea. How much time and money do Americans spend cutting grass short every week just because. Don't get me wrong, I have a yard but I have several places that I could mow but I don't. I throw all kinds of wildflower seeds and milkweed seeds in these areas every year and they just keep coming. Instead of planting grass on the steep hill beside the house, I covered it in old hay (full of flower seeds) and crown vetch. The entire hill is a carpet of flowers and green and its full of bees, butterflies and anything else you can think of all summer. I also sowed several pounds of dutch clover when I started my yard and the bees love the little white flowers. Instead of weed-eating my ditches, I just lined them with day lilies and iris I dug up along the road and some mint that grows where it wants to. Lots of hummingbirds and butterflies.
My wife also planted all of the flower beds around the house with very pollinator friendly species. My personal favorites are the 2 butterfly bushes that bring in countless insects and birds.
We have made it a habit to give people perennial plants like the butterfly bushes as gifts to spread the idea.
Keep it up!
 
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semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
4,043
SW Virginia

gggvan

Member
Dec 6, 2012
120
A couple questions:

1. When a label says part sun, 3-6 hrs of morning sun. Will planting in full sun make it wilt faster? May Breeze Phlox for example.
2. Can butterfly bushes dominate an area, 8-10'H x 6-8W, can it really grow that large in SE Mass in 3+ months?
 

walhondingnashua

Feeling the Heat
Jul 23, 2016
391
ohio
Both of our butterfly bushes grow pretty big pretty fast. Neither have been 10' tall but they do spread out. My wife cuts them back each year. They are not a very full bush and there are some things that still grow behind them.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
88,906
South Puget Sound, WA
Both of our butterfly bushes grow pretty big pretty fast. Neither have been 10' tall but they do spread out. My wife cuts them back each year. They are not a very full bush and there are some things that still grow behind them.
They grow huge out here, no matter how heavily I hack them back. We have several 10-12 footers and one that is about 15 ft around. I have cut that bush down to the ground and it is back to full size in about 3 years.

If you want to help butterflies grow some milkweed.
 

semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
4,043
SW Virginia