EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


April 27, 2014

Bee-friendly garden can help struggling species


* Install bee hotels around the yard by drilling holes in wood blocks and creating reed or bamboo bundles. They provide instant habitat and can be built on the cheap. "Another thing you can do is plant woody plants (elderberries, raspberries, sumac) with branches that have soft insides," Vaughan said. "Grow these shrubs up and then cut them back to expose the stems. Carpenter and mason bees will nest in them."

* Eliminate or change the way you apply pesticides. Don't use them on plants that are blooming. Apply them at night when bees are less active. Spray from ground level to reduce drift, and create buffer zones next to agricultural areas. Rethink the use of herbicides, which reduce pollinator food sources by removing flowers from the landscape.

* Add signage to advertise the presence of pollinators. Bees often range several miles from their hives or nests. Place pollinator habitat signs around pastures, community gardens, city parks, bike trails or suburban yards to promote conservation.

What it comes down to is providing at least two important things, Vaughan said: "Plant wildflowers that provide a high succession of bloom. Have home gardens free of chemicals. Get into natural gardening."

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