Step 3: Provide Shelter for Pollinators
Besides food and water, pollinators need somewhere to live. Nesting sites are essential for their survival, without these sites, we wouldn’t have any pollinators. The best way to provide proper nesting sites is by getting to know your pollinators! Bumble bees typically nest at the base of bunch grasses in old mouse holes or the cavities of trees. Dead wood provides nesting habitat for a variety of pollinators such as some bees, wasps, beetles, and ants. Many solitary bees will nest in the pith of stems and twigs.
You can also create man-made nesting sites. For example, bee-nesting blocks can be made out of an untreated wood block by drilling a number of holes approximately 1/4 inches in diameter, and 3 to 5 inches deep. Mount the block on a post or the side of a building. An ideal place would be under the eaves of a garage or shed, which gives some protection from the rain. For more information, see Conservation bee nesting houses.
Pollinators also need protection for overwintering, so instead of cleaning up your gardens in the fall, wait until late spring. Perennials and grasses left standing will provide shelter and will give winter interest to your garden.
For more information on providing nesting and overwintering sites, click on the publications below:
- Understanding Native Bees, the Great Pollinators: Enhancing Their Habitat in Maine
- Native Pollinators (PDF)
- Ground Nesting Bees in Your Yard
- Field Conservation Management
In order to certify, your garden needs at least three of the following:
- Spaces of bare ground
- Rock pile or wall
- Dead wood
- Bee boxes
- Leave garden cleanup until late spring