Alternative Vegetable Garden Native Pollinators
I raise a large vegetable garden every year. I'd like to build nest to attract native pollinators to help pollinate my garden. Any recommendations? My honeybees pollinate most of my vegetables and berries but ignore my okra, tomatoes, beans, peppers, and strawberries. My okra is pollinated by a native black bee, July-September, similar in size to honeybees but a much quicker flier. Any idea what bee this is? Any native bees help pollinate tomatoes, beans, peppers, strawberries? I live in South Central Kansas with ph 7 heavy clay soil. Thanks!
Last edited by betrbekepn; 07-01-2007 at 03:23 PM.
You won't need pollinators for beans, tomatoes, or peppers, but you do need them for cucurbit family members like squash, cukes, and melons. There's really no "nest" that I can think of that would be helpful. The best advice I have is to avoid using pesticides because that will kill your pollinators as well as the bugs that do damage. I have several other pollinators in this area besides my hive of bees. The best ones for cucurbit family plants that I have noticed are the "skipper" family of butterflies. Several of them are common in your area. Beeflies are also excellent in cucurbit plants, and there are several species here. The common one here looks very similar to honeybees, but are a little larger and are vigorous pollinators. When I first noticed one, I thought I had a mutant bee from my hive in the garden, lol. Several species of moths visit my gourd flowers. Like I said, I don't know of anything you can build to attract them, but there are containers sold for mason bees, if I remember correctly. The problem with that is I think (and I may be mistaken), they only visit fruit tree flowers. If you let your natural flora grow, and plant a large variety of wildflowers and older flower species, you will likely find your pollinator population exploding. I plant lots of stuff for the bees and the butterflies, and find many species visiting that I have never seen before.
Here's a link to quicky mason bee nests you can build
Blue Orchard Bees (Mason Bees) forage a wide variety of plants. Included in the list I have is Dandelion, Turnip, Rape, Mustard, Manzanita, Sweet pea, redbud, gooseberry waterleaf, phacelia, buttercup (glad something can use it), etc. BUT, in nests in or near orchards pollen samples contain 85-100% fruit tree pollen. So they prefer and are extremely good at orchard pollination.
"How to Manage the Blue Orchard Bee as an Orchard Pollinator", Bosch, J., Kemp, W.
As dragon fly said, plantings are good to attract bees, also leaving undisturbed soil for ground nesting bees can be done along fence rows and such. Bumblebees can use small cavities, but placing nesting boxes has had a wide variety of success and failure, 100% failure in some trials. Bumblebees can also use old bird nests. Protecting native bee nesting areas once you see them is probably very important. We had a yearly bumble bee nesting area at our house, but last year I went in and did moderate trimming for a fence in the brushy area and there's been no bumblers since.
Mason bees are excellent pollinators of early blooming plants and trees. However, most of the mason bees are dead before most of the vegetable gardens are in bloom. The only exception are some species of ground dwelling bees. Mason bees have a very short season of activity.
Thanks [SIZE="4"]BeeAware[/SIZE]. I'd figured the native black bee pollinating my okra, July - September, were Mason Bees. Guess not, I'll try to catch one and run it down to the county extension and see if they can identify it.
Last edited by betrbekepn; 07-22-2007 at 12:05 PM.
betrbekepn- it may be a species of beefly. I'll link a photo below of a black beefly that I thought was a bee. They are very good pollinators.