The blueberry bushes are progressing nicely this spring and in a few short weeks will be in blossom. We depend on bees and other pollinators to create the fruit you get to pick in the summer. Our farm uses a combination of honey bee hives and bumblebee hives to get the pollination done. But we also get help from native pollinators like mason bees, ants, butterflies and other flying insects which are integral in the cross pollination process which ultimately produces a blueberry. Pollinators are also essential to producing apples, peas, raspberries, broccoli and many more vegetables and fruits.
In recent years, we’ve heard a lot about colony collapse disorder within a honey bee hive but other pollinators have decreased in numbers due to man-made problems. As you begin to work in your gardens this summer, keep in mind some tips which will help all our pollinators survive.
- Don’t kill the dandelions on your lawn! They are an important early source of pollen for bees and other pollinators.
- Provide a water source for bees.
- Add hummingbird and butterfly feeders to your yard.
- Leave native plants and bushes in your yard but get rid of invasives (autumn olive, bittersweet and japanese knotweed are just a few invasives).
- Don’t be too clean with your property. Different types of bees nest in the hollows of old flower stems and scattered brush piles.
- Yellow, blue and purple flowers are attractive to bees and perennial flowers will provide the most pollen and nectar.
- Single flowers rather than double flowers are easier for bees to retrieve nectar and pollen.
- Visit a local nursery and ask them for recommendations. Great plants for bees are asters, sunflowers, bee balm, crab apple trees, lavender, catmint and of course blueberries!