Native plants for bees and butterflies

Bees keep gardens pollinated, fortify the ecosystem and are just plain fun to watch. Our local bees rely on a variety of plants for survival and are happy to spread around plenty of pollen as they go. Bee City USA says that native plants are the key to keeping bees happy and the organization recently released a list of native, pollinator-friendly plants specific to our region.

“Each time we plant a native species — one that thrived in our county for thousands of years — we are fortifying the local, complex food web for man, plant and animal,” states Bee City USA.

Colony collapse disorder continues to baffle beekeepers across the country. No definitive answer on what is killing bumble bees, orchard bees, beetles and butterflies has been found. One theory is that manicured lawns and “pest-free” plants from other regions are at fault. Many native bees cannot recognize exotic plants as food and foreign plants often bring outside diseases and pests with them.

Bee City USA has some advice for keeping native bees healthy:

1. Download Bee City USA’s list of recommended pollinator-friendly native plants (see below). The list includes bloom time, bloom color, pollinators served and local nurseries that stock each plant.
2. When planting, include a diversity of plants that bloom in succession throughout the year.
3. Work less this year by leaving some parts of your yard natural. You’ll be inviting the pollinators to make themselves at home in fallen branches, tree stumps, or bare ground where they can raise their young and overwinter.
4. Avoid pesticides altogether, or use them very carefully while pollinators are not flying either very early or late in the day.

Suggested plants include pink milkweed, blue wild indigo, wild bleeding heart and many others. Click here for a full list.


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