You’ve heard about the plight of honey bees. But did you know there are 4,000 species of native bees in North America? Many of them are in peril due to habitat loss and pesticides. While they don’t produce honey, these insects are a vital part of our ecosystem. If the (non-native) honey bees continue to have troubles, we will need our native bees more than ever to pollinate our crops and gardens.
The vast majority of native bees are solitary rather than social insects. Unlike honey bees and bumble bees, each female has her own nest, so you don’t need to fear the possibility of being attacked by the colony. Solitary bees are docile and do not have the painful sting of honey bees.
Here are some ways to welcome native pollinators to your Santa Cruz home.
Stop Using Insecticides
This is the most important first step. If you rely on chemicals to control insect pests, you are killing beneficial insects as well, including predators and parasites of the pests you want to get rid of.
Plant a Diverse Garden
The greater the variety of plants in your yard, the more species of bees you will attract. Make sure you have variations in height, flowering time and plant families. As always, diversity is key to having a healthy ecosystem.
Grow Native Plants
Not all plants in your garden need to be natives, but the more native plants you have, the better.
Provide Nesting Sites
Most native bees are diggers; they nest underground. But about a third of native bees are tube-nesters. In nature, they nest in hollow twigs. But you can provide nest sites for them, either by drilling holes in blocks of wood or by hanging tubes out for them, made from bamboo or reeds. Holes and tubes can range in size from 1/8 to ½ inch in diameter, and from 4 to 6 inches long. The more sizes you provide, the greater the diversity of species you welcome.
Do Not Disturb
Leave at least part of your yard unmowed and untilled. (Think perennials and wildflowers.) This will give the digger bees a chance to raise their young undisturbed.
Go Bug Watching!
Once you provide habitat for native pollinators, go out and see who moves in. Get to know your bugs. It’s great entertainment, available at your own Santa Cruz home.
Still only dreaming of having a yard or garden of your own? I can help you find a Santa Cruz home with the perfect yard or garden for you. Call me today at 831.662.6522 or email me at Lauren@LaurenSpencer.com.
For additional real estate information, please visit my homepage at www.MySantaCruzRealEstate.com.