Bees are an important part of healthy ecosystems and contribute to food supply security. Bumble bees, in specific, are highly efficient pollinators because they fly in cooler temperatures, damper conditions, and lower light levels than other bee species. Bumble bees are great pollinators for wildflowers, alfalfa, berries, and other crops. Wildlife depend on the fruits, seeds, and habitat cover generated by these plants being pollinated.
Unfortunately, populations of some bumble bee species are declining due to disease, altered habitat, pesticides, invasive species, etc. One example is the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee (Bombus affinis), once common to the northeastern and midwestern United States.
Want to BE the difference for these BEES? Create habitat to provide them with food and shelter!
Habitat areas can be large or small, as long as there is sufficient diversity of vegetation. A few tips on how to create an ideal habitat are given below, and more information can be found here.
- Rusty Patched Bumble Bees are active from April to October, so it is ideal to plant a mix containing multiple types of flowering vegetation to ensure constant blooming.
- Plant flowers in clumps. Concentrated patches of flowers attract more pollinators.
- Plant different shapes, colors, and heights of flowers.
Bumble bee habitats can be created in backyards, rain gardens, parks, school grounds, golf courses, and more! On a larger scale, farmers can increase buffers of natural vegetation around their agricultural fields to attract more pollinators, which will increase crop yield.
Bonus Benefit: Planting native vegetation can decrease storm water runoff, which will improve water quality in local waterways!
For more ideas on how sustainability improvements such as this can benefit your community, browse our "Green Sustainability" articles.
About the Author
Maureen A. Schneider
Maureen is passionate about finding effective, efficient, and environmentally sustainable solutions to engineering problems. She has experience in the development of storm water management plans, stream restoration projects, regulatory permit processes, agricultural pollutant reduction program implementation, and other storm water quality improvement projects. Maureen has been with Ruekert & Mielke, Inc. since 2017.