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Playground Equipment Blog
Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Creating a Pollinator Garden for Your Family

The news has been “a buzz” lately with articles about the negative biological effects diminishing forests have on our bee populations. Decreased wildlife preservation has been wreaking havoc on our bee populations and local wildlife—bad news for our local ecosystems. Thankfully, bee colony collapse is improving. But, our tiny winged friends are still struggling thanks to land development and pesticide use.


The good news? Your family can help by making your home and yard a healthy place for our fuzzy friends, plant-loving. Here are some ideas for creating a bee-friendly paradise:


Start a Pollinator Garden


In a few simple steps, you can create a backyard pollinator bed that acts as a safe and healthy habitat for bee colonies, increasing any vegetable garden yields, and boosting the health of your flower beds.


If you’re new to pollinator gardens, it’s a good idea to do some research before jumping in. One fantastic resource is your local community garden. You’ll find folks who can walk you through the process and direct you to the best pollinator plants for your specific region. And if you’re hoping to plant a produce garden along with your patch of wildflowers, seasoned gardeners will have knowledge of ideal planting and harvesting timelines, making planning your bounty a simple process.


It’s important to note: some pollinator plants can be invasive when planted in the wrong climate. Cheerios learned this the hard way after their well-meaning “Bring Back the Bees” campaign resulted in the distribution of seeds that are invasive to certain U.S. regions.


For guidance, consult this handy website with lists of recommended native plants, cataloged by state and geographical climate. After that, find a reputable seed company, or get in touch with a seasoned pollinator gardener, and ask them if they’d be willing to give you starter plants and offshoots.


Remember, different bee species demonstrate different pollinating habits. For example, some bees like to pollinate using a variety of wildflowers, while others have definite favorites and gravitate toward those plants again and again. So, the more variety of plants in your pollinator garden, the better your chances of success.


Create a Mason Bee Habitat


For this craft, adapted from Natural Beach Living, you’ll need:

  • One tin can
  • Parchment paper
  • Paint (yellow or bright colors work best)
  • Tape
  • A nail and a hammer
  • A piece of string

Adults, you’ll need to tap two holes in either side of the can. (This is where you’ll tie the string to hang it from the tree, mouth facing out.) Next, invite children to paint their mason bee cans with bright colors. Decoupage using construction paper or newspaper is also an excellent idea and a great way to recycle paper products, providing hours of crafting fun. Next, Tie a piece of string through the two holes, making a hanger for your “bee hotel.” Cut a piece of parchment paper in half and roll it, starting at one end, so that it makes a tight roll with two entries. Tape one of the sides shut, and place it in the mouth of your painted soup or coffee can, open-end forward. Then, repeat this step until the can is full. When you’re done, it should vaguely resemble a honeycomb. Hang it from a tree or in your pollinator garden to attract bee friends.


Create Cute Pollinator Markers


Pollinator plants come in so many shapes and sizes. Some are weedy and long, while others are short, full, and sport geometrical blooms. And for new gardeners—and kids—it can be difficult to distinguish between one and another.


Get crafty and use painted rocks, popsicle sticks, or metal stakes to imprint the names of plants using the pressure of a pencil or pen. This craft is both practical and fun! Kids will have a blast painting and drawing, while also learning about the different varieties of pollinators and the importance of wildlife preservation.


You can also help kids to create a large sign welcoming friends to their pollinator garden. You just may encourage neighbors to follow suit and plant their own gardens, creating a more vibrant neighborhood for everyone! Another upside to planting pollinators? It limits the amount of mowing you have to do, which is a win for the planet and your sanity!


Remember to Mind Your Step


Interestingly, most North America’s native bees—70%—nest in the ground. So, be careful about where you step! Instruct children to leave a patch of untouched dirt somewhere in your yard for bees to build their habitats. (You can even denote this area with a sign or a border of rocks and flowers. For even more protection, surround the area with low fencing.)


Help Children to “Bee” Mindful

Gardening facilitates crucial conversations about the symbiotic relationship between people and the planet. Do you garden with your kids? Leave some comments and tips in the space below.


Written by: Parker Jones

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