Pollinator health information for gardeners
Pollinators are a gardener's friend. Most flowering plants (including fruit and vegetables) can't reproduce without the help of bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, flies, hummingbirds or other pollinators. The loss of pollinators threatens biodiversity and the survival of many native flowering plants that are important sources of food, habitat and other resources for people and wildlife.
By taking a few simple steps to protect these important creatures, you can help your garden thrive – and boost pollinator populations in Ontario.
What you can do to help:
Pollinators need pollen and nectar to survive, so plant plenty
of flowers, trees and shrubs. For lists of pollinator-friendly
- Pollinator Partnership Canada's Selecting Plants for Pollinators series (three guides are available for the Lake Erie Lowlands, Algonquin-Lake Nipissing and Manitoulin-Lake Simcoe eco-regions)
- The Xerces Society's Pollinator plants: Great Lakes Region
- Pollination Guelph's Plants that attract pollinators
- Landscape Ontario's Tips to make your garden more pollinator friendly
- Aim for a succession of blooms from early spring until fall so that your pollinators don't go hungry. Pollination Canada has produced a season-by-season list of bee-friendly plants.
- Include a mix of flowers with different sizes and shapes to attract different types of pollinators. Avoid hybrid flowers, as they don't tend to produce much pollen and nectar.
- Group plants of the same species together, so pollinators don't have to fly too far to collect nectar or pollen.
- Pollinators need water for drinking and bathing. Some bees also use water to create pollen balls. Make sure they have access to shallow containers of water, puddles or ponds with gently sloping sides. (To avoid encouraging mosquitos, change the water frequently or install an aerator.)
- Some bees need mud to build their nests, so encourage a few damp areas in your garden.
- Don't clear away dead plant material, because many pollinators overwinter in fallen leaves. Similarly, don't cut down hollow-stemmed plants in the fall: certain types of native bees will nest in the stems in the spring.
- Leave fallen branches or logs. These provide a home for other types of native bees.
- Leave a little bare soil in your garden for burrowing bees.
- Consider creating your own bee nests from wood or milk cartons.
- Choose seeds, seedlings and plants that are attractive to pollinators, such as hawthorn shrub, lavender, black-eyed susan and sunflower.
Become involved with a group
We all have a part to play in helping pollinators to thrive in Ontario. You can help by getting involved in groups that work to promote pollinators or participating in "citizen science" projects by providing useful information to help track and monitor pollinators and their habitats. Both are easy to do. Learn more about the many organizations in Ontario that have pollinator initiatives or are coordinating citizen science projects for pollinator research at Pollinator action highlights.
- You can find more detailed information in Gardener Action Plan.
For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300