On a recent cold sunny Sunday in Groton, Tom Sullivan of Pollinators Welcome shared his vast knowledge of pollinators and related topics in the lecture “Attracting Pollinators to your Garden,” co-sponsored by the Groton Garden Club and the Nashua River Watershed Association, and funded by the Groton Commissioners of Trust Funds.
Tom Sullivan, M.A.L.D (Master of Arts in Landscape Design), owner of Pollinators Welcome, designs, consults, lectures, writes, educates, and develops products for pollinators and their habitats. He focuses on native bee proliferation by increasing nesting sites, meadow grasses and flowers, and connectivity among habitat fragments across the landscape.
He discussed different types of bees and their habits and habitats in great detail. Our primary pollinators are bees, both the bumble and honey varieties, and also include certain wasps, flies, and to a lesser extent, hummingbirds and butterflies. There are 5,000 bee species in North America, and 20,000 species on planet Earth.
Bumble bees are native to Massachusetts, but in recent years the number of bumble bee species has dropped from 17 to 12. Since it is the bees’ work, or pollination, that helps to create some of our food and many of our flowers, it is important to encourage bees to live on your property. Here are some ways to encourage their habitation: Since they mainly nest in the ground, or in holes in trees, leave some dead brush on the ground or a dead tree for them to nest in. Mow only paths through your grass, not the whole lawn, thereby leaving a meadow with tall plants, in which pollinators and others species can nest. Structural diversity (or variety in the size, shape, and texture) in plants creates niches in which bees will live. They also follow the scent of rodents, and like to nest where rodents live or have lived.
Planting pollinator-friendly native plants is an important way to encourage bees’ habitation. Please click on this link for Tom’s list of Native plants for pollinators
Tom also discussed the threats to the bees’ existence, including:
- Loss of their habitat through land development or other causes;
- Loss of native floral diversity, caused by excessive planting of exotic flower species, which don’t provide as much pollen for bees, or by excessive destruction of native flower species;
- Any abrupt climate change, which disrupts bloom time, and therefore also bee emergence; and
- The harmful effects of pesticides and insecticides on bees’ ability to pollinate.
Some interesting bee facts:
Pollination helps to create food; an estimated 33% of the food we eat is created indirectly through pollination; and 90% of the vitamin-C-rich foods are also provided through pollination.
Bees live only 4-6 weeks as adults, and emerge at various times in the spring.
90% of bee species are solitary dwellers.
Honey bees are not native to Massachusetts.
Bees sometimes buzz-pollinate in the key of C, in this way: their whole bodies vibrate to that key while they are inside a flower. The movement from the vibration causes their bodies to become covered with pollen, which they then share with another plant. While observing this process one can enjoy not only the beauty of the bees and the flowers, the movement of the bees, the scent of the flowers, the knowledge that nature is working to benefit food and flower production, but can also hear sunny, warm music in the key of C.
Please click this link for additional photos from the lecture: Pollinators_Welcome_Pictures
Please click this link to Tom’s website: PollinatorsWelcome.com