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Creating habitat for native pollinators

Posted 9/24/2013 9:47am by Brien Darby.

While many gardens are lucky enough to have thriving populations of introduced pollinators (namely, the honey bee), it is important that we don't forget about our native pollinators.  There are hundreds of butterflies, bees, flies, beetles, and wasps that are native to the Rocky Mountain region who also visit our flowers and vegetables and preform the necessary task of pollination.  While honey bees live in hives specifically designed to maximize honey production and ease of honey harvest, native pollinators require far less high-maintenance abodes.  Traditional native insect habitats range from holes drilled into logs, to stacks of bricks, to reeds and bamboo cut into short pieces and stacked horizontally to create small nooks for nesting.  This past weekend, the gardeners at the Botanic Gardens Community Garden created three native insect habitats that, in addition to being inviting to our native friends, also double as works of art.

 

The empty frames were created from portions of reclaimed pallets.  By attaching 2x6 boards to the bottoms to act as "feet" and a few 2x4 boards throughout the frames to create compartments, the frame construction was a simple process and used entirely reclaimed materials.

 

The materials with which to fill the frames were gathered from the garden, from surrounding parks, and some pieces were left over from floral arrangements that were donated by a local floral designer.  Materials include: bamboo, pine cones, sticks/logs, roofing tiles, wicker, cork, branches, seed pods, reeds, bricks, twine, etc.

After a few hours of diligent designing and placing of materials, this is what our gardeners/artists created:

 

 

In addition to the fabulous habitats, our native pollinator garden also contains several species of native plants that are pollinator attractants.  Plants include asters, bee balm, yarrow, hyssop, blanket flower, and milkweed.  Plants were also chosen intentionally based on bloom time to ensure that nectar is provided throughout the entire season.

For more information on native plants, native pollinators, and creating appropriate habitat, check out the Xerces Society webpage.