Category: pollinators

This handsome man stole my heart! 

This handsome man stole my heart! 

Tarantula Hawk wasp, seen at Lake Travis outside Austin, TX

August 4 / Posted October 2, 2018

I saw your post on helping bees. I really want…

I saw your post on helping bees. I really want to help bees but I'm deathly allergic and live in an apartment complex so I haven't been sure what to do. I've thought about planting flowers but I also seem to have a bit of a black thumb. Clearly I'm a hot mess do you know any charities I can support?

How to Help Bees – Black Thumb Edition

You can help bees directly without planting flowers! I can understand that when you are deathly allergic to something, you want to stay as far away from it as possible (I’m allergic to latex and I have literal nightmares about balloons–those things are horrible and everywhere). If you have a bee phobia, you may want to check out this post I made about how to get more comfortable around bees and things that look/sound like them [link]. 

If you are more bee-wary than bee-phobic, what about a little water garden? Many bees need a water source. You will often see bees hanging out at fountains on hot days. I keep shallow dishes of water in my yard for birds and wildlife, and caught these two ladies enjoying the facilities:

image

To make a super easy water feature just for bees, you can get a shallow container like I have. I use the water-catching “base” part that comes with those cheap orange plastic pots–you can buy the base separately, or you can use any other shallow bowl. The bees need something to stand on. I have a stick in my bowls because some birds like to perch, and it helps beetles and other bugs get out if they fall in. This short article suggests filling your bowl with corks [link] (great idea!).

If you do want to try plants, it’s not too hard to set up a water garden. And it’s hard to forget to water plants that live in the water (unless if all evaporates, but you can usually notice the water dropping)! I’ve never had a water garden specifically, but I have kept planted aquariums, and some plants won’t stop growing even if you wanted them to. If there’s a pond with duckweed near you (little itty tiny floating plants), scoop up a couple and put them in your dish. They grow exponentially! Here are a couple articles about making a fancier container water garden:

Easy Container Water Gardens (Midwest Living) [link]
Make a Big Splash with a Tiny Water Garden (fine Gardening) [link]
You can probably also find a million and one tutorials on pinterest!

Support Bees & Pollinators by Donating to Charities

There are so many groups that are working to help bees and other pollinators that it can be overwhelming! The main one that comes to mind is The Xerces Society [link]. They’re a great organization. Here is their Mission Statement  [link]:

The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation is an international nonprofit organization that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitats. We take our name from the now extinct Xerces Blue butterfly (Glaucopsyche xerces), the first butterfly known to go extinct in North America as a result of human activities.

Any group that supports butterflies will also support other pollinators (any measure helping butterflies will consequently be good for bees as well), so you can feel safe donating to butterfly organizations as well. The National Butterfly Center [link] in Texas is currently in danger of destruction due to contractors violating law to build the infamous “border wall.” They can use any help they can get to protect their private property to ensure they can continue working on behalf of habitat conservation!  

You can also consider supporting work done more locally to you! Many areas have Master Naturalist and Master Gardener programs (these are typically volunteers working to help support the natural areas around them and engage people with nature). See if there is a group like this near you, and find out if you can donate specifically to support work for pollinators. Some groups keep pollinator gardens. They can teach you how to be a better gardener by practicing with them, or you can donate to help them keep it running. 

Is there a botanical garden near you? Do they have programs and activities geared towards helping bees and pollinators? They probably do! You could participate, OR you could donate for a fund that helps their programming. Sometimes it costs money to sign up for workshops and classes at these places, so you could donate to a “scholarship” fund, allowing people with limited means to be better gardeners.

I hope this helps! 

July 23, 2018 (finally… sorry!)