Plant Pollination: A Bounty to Buzz About

The art of attracting nature’s best pollinators to your garden.

| March/April 2012

  • Pollinating Hummingbird
    A ruby throat hummingbird feeds on the prennial Turk's-cap and transmits pollen in the process. Robertson
  • Garden For Pollinators
    Planting a flower bed with diverse flower color, shape, blooming time and biological makeup provides a beautiful flower garden and more pollinators for the vegetable garden. B.
  • Bat House
    Providing a bat box somewhere on the perimeter of your property can actually mean more pollination.
  • Bee On Flower
    Honeybees may be the most prolific pollinators, but with around 4,000 species of bees in North America, you'd be remiss to focus solely on the honeybee.
  • Pollinating Butterfly
    Butterflies are both beautiful and beneficial as pollinators. Sadowski
  • Ladybug On Lavender
    Lavender is a member of the mint family, and can actually produce a profitable harvest while attracting large numbers of beneficial insects. Malms

  • Pollinating Hummingbird
  • Garden For Pollinators
  • Bat House
  • Bee On Flower
  • Pollinating Butterfly
  • Ladybug On Lavender

Growing fruits and vegetables takes more than quality soil, well-timed moisture, and sufficiently mild temperatures. The unsung heroes of the garden patch are the pollinators that help ensure proper fruit development and that precious crop of viable seed for next year. Put it all together and you have a self-perpetuating system that will supply you with good food into the future and look great to boot.

For those who share a love and passion for gardening or crop farming, sowing a diverse group of plants is the quickest way to entice pollinators and ensure successful bounties for years to come.

Plant pollination: the pollinators

When we first think of plant pollination, it’s easy to think of bees and, in particular, honeybees, though honeybees are not native to North America. European settlers brought the honeybee to the New World around the turn of the 17th century, along with a bevy of plants that the “white man’s fly” (so called by Native Americans) pollinated.

Honeybees may be the most prolific pollinating insects, but with around 4,000 species of bees in North America, and the honeybee being only one of them, you’d be remiss to focus solely on the honeybee in attracting pollinators to your backyard garden.

Bumblebees also do their fair share of pollinating, as do digger bees, mining bees, orchard bees and a host of other natives, and for the most part these smaller often solitary creatures have a quality about them that might make a bald man jealous that they aren’t evaluated on how much pollen they can carry back to the nest – they are hairy.

Although these native bees don’t produce and store honey, they are invaluable to our food supply – be it pollinating a 1,000-acre monoculture or a quarter-acre backyard garden. Native bees in New Jersey and Pennsylvania have been known to effectively pollinate watermelon farms, without the help of honeybees. Native bees also are efficient pollinators of pumpkins, tomatoes, apples and berries.

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