Healthy Planet, Healthy Plate series:
By Carol Masters, Becketwood Member
Editor's note: This blog is being re-posted from July 2017. Please see the addition and note below.*
It was such a joy to meet Becketwood folks June 14. Thank you so much for having me! I mentioned a number of resources and wanted to share them with you to share with everyone. I think this list incorporates the things I mentioned. Let me know if folks have other questions.
– Erin Rupp, Executive Director, Pollinate Minnesota
- Heather Holm’s website and books
- Pollinate Minnesota
- Pollinator Friendly Alliance, Humming for Bees.
- Xerces Society SO MANY EXCELLENT RESOURCES including Citizen Science monitoring guides, what to plant for whom, worksheets for land managers to increase pollinator health. *City/smaller plot one coming soon!
- and our Minnesota Department of Ag's Neonic Report
- University of MN Bee Lab
- Pesticide Action Network
- Beyond Pesticides (Organic Land Management Transition) and Center For Food Safety.
- And- anyone can feel free to call or email me with other questions. firstname.lastname@example.org, 245.6384
Heather Holm’s site is a compendium of information and further resources about pollinators and their advocates. Links also include downloadable pdf posters of pollinator-attracting flowers for different soil types and shade or sunny conditions. For example: loamy soil (some of our Member and community gardens) supports fragrant hyssop, stiff goldenrod, purple prairie clover, pale purple and yellow coneflowers, golden alexanders, hoary vervain, black-eyed susan, meadow blazingstar, sunflower, smooth beardtongue, and wild bergamot.
The Bee Atlas is a program of the University of Minnesota Extension Service. As Erin told us, Minnesota has over 400 species of wild bees, and citizens help to identify and categorize them. They encourage anyone to join the project: “To submit observations, first create an account at iNaturalist. Then click on ‘Projects’ at the top of the page and search for ‘Minnesota Bee Atlas’ to submit your observations. Do not worry if you do not know the species of bee, just fill in as much information as you can.”
A few tips from Pollinator Friendly Alliance and its link to the Honeybee Conservancy:
Select single flower tops such as daisies and marigolds, rather than double flower tops such as double impatiens. Double-headed flowers look showy but produce less nectar and access to pollen.
Forget hybrids that have been bred not to seed and produce very little pollen.
Try at least three different types of flowers, earlier to late season to ensure a constant source of food. For example:
- Crocus, hyacinth, borage, calendula, and wild lilac for spring blooms.
- Bees feast on bee balm, cosmos, echinacea, snapdragons, and hosta in the summer.
- For fall, zinnias, sedum, asters, witch hazel and goldenrod are late bloomers that will tempt pollinators.
Finally, a mistake I made, in ordering a small packet of “bee mix,” was highlighted in a post to Humming for Bees: In an effort to help the declining bee population in the U.S., Cheerios sent out free wildflower seed packets to people across the country — but some of the flowers included are invasive species to certain areas.
Among the flower seeds included in Cheerios' giveaway, the Forget-Me-Not is banned in Massachusetts for being a noxious weed. Another flower, the California poppy, is listed as an invasive plant to southeastern states. Several of the seed types are not native to the U.S. Invasive species can out-compete the natives, “they can take up all the space and use up all the resources, they can spread disease, and cause other physical changes to their new homes,” the ecologist Kathryn Turner told Lifehacker.
However, according to General Mills, the varieties "were selected for their flowers that produce nectar and pollen attractive to bees and other pollinators… annuals, biennials, and perennials that produce flowers throughout the entire growing season in a wide range of colors….The seed varieties in the mix are not considered invasive." And Lifehacker reported that Forget-me-Nots were not included. I will keep an eye on my small patch of bee mix.
The Xerces Society publishes regional gardening guides to help us figure out the best plants to buy. Meanwhile, Lifehacker says, if you want to check the status of a random plant from a garden store, you can check out the USDA’s PLANTS database. If your state is green, that means the plant is native there. Click on the “legal status” tab to see if the plant is on any federal or state noxious weed lists.
*Editor's note: Kacey, a neighborhood student, found an additional resource for us to add to this post: Flower Fragrances That Attract Bees and Butterflies to Your Garden. Thanks for your help, Kacey!