3 Pollinator Projects Ahead of National Honey Bee Awareness Day
National Honey Bee Awareness Day is Saturday, August 20th. This lovely holiday allows us to reflect on and remember our endangered pollinators and consider how our everyday actions impact the honey bee’s livelihood.
But while honey bees get the most attention for their pollination activities, they’re not the only bugs engaging in this vital work.
In the US, thousands of native pollinators help trees, bushes, and flowers bloom. Sadly, many of them go unrecognized. Even some species of wasp, fly, and bat keep our plants in tip-top shape.
They may not be as cute or fluffy as honey bees, but all of our pollinators deserve recognition and a little pick-me-up now and again. And that’s where you come in.
Everyone can become a pollination proponent this Honey Bee Awareness Day by creating habitats for every bee — and not just one species. Here’s what you can do to support at-risk pollinators with easy-to-make projects.
DIY Projects for All Kinds of Pollinators
There are so many reasons to create pollinator projects this Awareness Day. They attract beneficial pests for the good of your garden and provide more inclusive protection for endangered insects around us.
Here are three of the most impactful projects for pollinators.
Like people, pollinators need a chance to slow down, drink up, and refresh after a hot day outside. Once temperatures surpass 95 degrees, bees are hard-pressed to find ways to cool off and rehydrate.
This is where the humble insect bath comes into play. These tiny bathing spots are made from clay, concrete, or even rocks, which give pollinators an excellent opportunity to refresh themselves.
You need three items to get started:
A pie pan
Marbles or rocks
Pour the mixed concrete into the pie pan. As it dries, add small stones and marbles to decorate the bottom of the pan. Once it has cured, pull the concrete out of the pie pan and add water to cover the bottom — place it near flowers for the best potential traffic.
Eusocial insects sleep in hives with the rest of their colonies, but this isn’t true of all pollinator species. Insects such as bumblebees, mason bees, and leafcutter bees are solitary for most of their lives.
Create a safe place for insects to sleep and rear their young with a custom-built pollinator hotel, a birdhouse-like construction that supplies places to hide, sleep, and lay eggs.
Pollinator hotels can be made in several ways:
Drilling sideways holes into a stump
Cutting sorghum stems or raspberry canes into bundles
Stuffing sticks, cardboard, and pine cones into a modified bird house
If you can’t build a pollinator hotel, feel free to create overwintering sites in your yard. This could be as easy as dumping leaves and brush piles in strategic locations.
Pollinator packets help people create space for bees and beyond, collecting annuals, perennials, and other blooming plants into a single location. This is a great project for little ones who may want to get into the spirit of the holiday.
The pollinator ‘packets’ take on many forms:
Are you looking for pollinator-friendly plant varieties? Try native cultivars of stonecrop, coneflower, milkweed, yarrow, and Bluebeard. In any event, support year-long pollination by feeding endangered species various native foods.
Other Ways To Help Local Pollinators
DIY is a great way to help out threatened pollinators, but it’s by no means the only method. If you’re serious about supporting endangered pollinators on National Honey Bee Awareness Day and beyond, there are a few other strategies to consider:
Choose native plants. These are more bioavailable to local pollinators and can support other flora and fauna. Check the native origins of the plants in your yard with tools like the NWF, Audubon, or your local extension office.
Back off pesticides. This also means using less fertilizer in your yard, and even some herbicides have the potential to injure wild pollinators. Instead, use integrated pest control efforts that work with (and not against) Mother Nature.
Nurture a grassland space. More than 90% of native wildflower space has been lost to development or cropland. Reclaim a small patch of grass in your backyard that could be allowed to flourish, or build a bed just for native grass and flowers.
Regardless of your steps, helping pollinators today may save the world tomorrow. And for thousands of at-risk pollinators this Awareness Day, any amount of effort will be well appreciated.