Support Bees & Native Pollinators

— Written By and last updated by Nancie Mandeville
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Everyone has heard about the decline and loss of honey bees in the past several years. Besides the honey bees, there are many other native bees, wasps, and other insects, as well as butterflies, moths, birds, and bats that serve as pollinators in our gardens.

In 2016, the Union County Bee Keepers Association partnered with the Extension Master Gardener℠ program and Union County Public Works to plant a cover crop at the landfill as pollinator habitat. The project was written up in a national trade magazine.

As a homeowner, you may think, what can I do? Can I make a difference? The answer is yes you can! Here are a few ways you can help the honey bees and our native bees:

  • Plant flowers such as cosmos & coneflowers that have open petals & upright stamens that provide easy access for our pollen-loving friends
  • Choose flowers like penstemon & salvia that are heavy pollen producers
  • Many herbs provide food and seasonings for us as well as bees and other pollinators, so if you don’t have them in your garden, consider adding them
  • Plant cover crops and use compost in place of synthetic fertilizers
  • Plan your garden so something is blooming from very early spring to late fall
  • Provide shelter by planting a variety of plants such as standing grasses, flowers with hollow stalks, shrubs, and even trees
  • Provide nesting spots, by leaving some open ground without mulch for ground-nesters or make artificial pollinator nesting habitats – you can easily find instructions on the internet
  • Limit or eliminate pesticide usage, especially when plants are flowering
  • Not all weeds need to be eradicated; see if the bees and butterflies are enjoying the buffet they offer and if they are, leave them be!
  • If you have open spaces like fields, roadsides, etc. plant with native wildflower seed mixes. Check the North Carolina Native Plant Society webpage for a list of nurseries who sell native plants & seeds as it is always best to use plants and seeds that come from our area. We have several nurseries in Union County & the region & you can find them at via the North Carolina Native Plant Society website.