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Beeing kind

Enrich your garden with native pollinators.

Welcome bees to your acreage

Fortunately, promoting native bees doesn't have to include a lot of protective suiting or purchased trappings, since many natives don't require hands-on human management.

The basic concepts are simple: Learn to recognize good pollinator habitat and, if necessary, enhance or restore it. The goal is a blend of bee-attracting perennials, chosen so that as one plant finishes blooming, others begin flowering to provide pollen and nectar sources throughout the growing season.

Also, adapt existing gardening practices to protect pollinators. In general, modify tillage and cultivation to avoid destroying solitary bee burrows in the soil and avoid the use of poisonous chemicals in the pollinator habitat.

Vaughan warns gardeners to be especially cautious about systemic pesticides such as neonicotinoids that bushes or trees absorb. "If you are interested in bees, be sure to ask how plants were raised before you buy them from a nursery," he explains. "Depending on how these chemicals were applied, you can find them in the nectar and pollen of treated plants, threatening bees with poison nectar as much as three years later."

Vaughan points out that even a modest commitment to bee habitat can return multiple rewards -- from complementing sustainable, local food production to producing a vibrant low-impact habitat that fosters wildlife in general. "I'm encouraging people to consider some habitat that's overgrown and authentically natural. What attracts bees will also benefit butterflies and birds. If you build it, they will come," Vaughan says.

"Native bees do so much for us. Beyond the practical services like pollinating our crops, they connect us to our heritage within the landscape, to the authentic country," he explains. "Bees are about creating the native meadows we once had and the array of wildlife they supported. By choosing to encourage native bees, landowners are tapping into the natural history of their home sites."

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