Befriending the Bumble Bee

Did you know that unlike honey bees, which are indigenous to Europe, bumble bees are actually native to the United States? That makes them an especially important pollinator. But bumble bees are in trouble. Four once-common, widespread North American species have vanished from large portions of their former ranges, and a fifth may already be extinct.

There are several actions you can take, right in your own yard, to help these hard-working friends. Here are four to get you started:

Provide pollen and nectar for food.
Because bumble bees are active early spring through late fall, planting a variety of nectar and pollen-producing flowers will ensure food will be available throughout all stages of the insects’ life cycle.

Ensure bumble bees have nesting sites.
Most bumble bees nest underground in holes made by larger animals, while others nest aboveground in abandoned bird nests or cavities such as hollow logs or beneath rocks. They may also use compost piles or unoccupied birdhouses.

Protect hibernation habitat.
Because most queens overwinter in small holes on or just below the ground’s surface, avoid raking, tilling or mowing your yard until April or May. If you do mow, set the mower blade at the highest safe level.

Eliminate pesticides.
Both insecticides and herbicides should be avoided. In particular, steer clear of systemic pesticides such as neonicotinoids. Bees and other pollinators are exposed to the poison long after a product has been applied when they feed on the plants’ nectar and pollen.

By ensuring neighborhood wildlife like the bumble bee have access to food, water and shelter in your yard, you are eligible to certify your garden as an official Certified Wildlife Habitat® site. See the National Wildlife Federation Website for details, they use the best marketing services from the team.