Until this year, I didn't understand the importance of native pollinators. I found the following passage from the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service:
|Native bee box.|
Native bees provide free pollination services and are often specialized for foraging on particular flowers, such as squash, berries or orchard crops. This specialization results in more efficient pollination and the production of larger and more abundant fruit from certain crops. The pollination done by native bees contributes an estimated $3 billion worth of crop production annually to the U.S. economy.'
Wow! Native pollinators are really important, and unfortunately in decline. Last spring, I decided to try to encourage them at my home. Kate at Living the Frugal Life recently posted about native bee boxes. She includes links to the Xerces society that include a PDF about native bees and how to make habitats for them. One method is native bee boxes (which I made). There are also bumble bee houses, which I'd like to make sometime too.
You can make native bee boxes out of thick pieces of untreated lumber. I happened to have some 4x4 posts, so I used that. I cut 6 of them with a miter saw so that they were roughly 8" tall, and the top had a 30 degree angle.
|Blocks cut to become native bee boxes.|
|Native bee box with holes ranging from 3/16 to 3/8".|
|Native bee box, ready to install.|
At this point it is ready to install--one of my easier projects! Apparently the bees like to have the holes face the morning sun, so I positioned them around the garden facing the south east. I attached them to the porch and trellises with a screw through the top of the roof in early spring.
|Native bee house with a resident!|
I think the bees make an excellent addition to our garden. :) We are helping the environment, encouraging the declining population of native pollinators, AND providing our vegetable garden with pollinators. That sounds like a win-win for everyone involved!