bee-friendly garden cleanup, with heather holm

bee-friendly garden cleanup, with heather holm

Heather Holm is the award-winning author of the 2017 book “Bees,” and before that of “Pollinators of Native Plants” (Amazon affiliate links). Her expertise includes the interactions between native bees and native flora, and the bees’ natural history and biology (that’s a small carpenter bee, genus Ceratina, above). She joined me on the podcast to tune us into their needs.

Read along as you listen to the October 26, 2020 edition of my public-radio show and podcast using the player below. You can subscribe to all future editions on Apple Podcasts (iTunes) or Spotify or Stitcher (and browse my archive of podcasts here).

Margaret Roach: As I said in the introduction, in that conversation about fall cleanup with Doug Tallamy, it dawned on me that as much as I know, and as many experts as I’ve spoken to over the years about pollinator plants and pollinator gardens, I don’t know as much at all about how a bee’s life history really works. What’s a bee’s-eye view of my place other than the flowers? I wondered if you could introduce us a little bit. I know there are many different species of native bees, but generally speaking, clue us into how a bee sees a place like our gardens.

Heather Holm: Sure. As you said, the big take-home message is just bee diversity—3,700 species approximately in the U.S., and basically each is overwintering in a different life stage than another.

It really makes it challenging in our gardens if we’re trying to supply supplemental nesting sites, for example. I always get the question, well, when do the bees leave? [Laughter.] And it always goes back to, well, it depends on the kind of bee. And the thing for people to remember is of those 3,700 species, about 90 percent have a solitary lifestyle. They really have this narrow window of time during the growing season that they’re active as adults.

We have bees that are the first bees to come out in the spring and are active for four weeks maybe in April or May, depending on where you live.

But then on the other hand, we have social bees, such as our native bumblebees, and they will be active throughout the growing season and have very different strategies for overwintering. I can continue, but… [laughter].

“Pollinators of Native Plants” and also of “Bees,” both by Heather Holm, to share with one of you. All you have to do to enter to win is answer this question in the comments box below, way below the last reader comment:

Have you modified your cleanup or anything else about your garden to appeal to beneficial insects like bees?

No answer, or feeling shy? Just say something like, “Count me in,” and I will–but an answer’s even better. I’ll pick two winners at random after entries close at midnight Tuesday, November 3, 2020. Good luck to all. U.S. and Canada only.

(Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

prefer the podcast version of the show?

iTunes/Apple Podcasts or Spotify or Stitcher (and browse my archive of podcasts here).

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