Book Notes: Attracting Native Pollinators

More and more I am awakening to the realization that I am destined to become a beekeeper. It is part of my spiritual path. It’s simply a matter of when and where. Meanwhile, as a kindly gentleman from Sonoma Beekeepers Association pointed out to me recently, “Start learning now.” And so I am, following my inner directives towards a path of bees, who, in all honesty, have long attended me, and I them. Along the path I was advised that the Xerces Society was about to have published Attracting Native Pollinators: Protecting North America’s Bees and Butterflies. Longtime followers of this blog would undoubtedly recognize this as My Kind of Book, so I was delighted that Storey Publishing gifted me with a copy so that I might alert all of you to Attracting Native Pollinators as a book all those interested in conscious gardening would want to have in their libraries as an invaluable resource book. For now, more than ever, it is critical that those of us who are called heed that call and learn all we can about our blessed butterflies and bees and learn to care for them, protect them from the onslaught that is their lives, and ensure that they survive, for us and for all who come after. It’s that dire, my dearest readers. It truly is.

For those of you who feel a need to educate yourselves on the current well being of pollinators in general Attracting Native Pollinators offers pragmatic information on Threats to Pollinators. I’m certain you are aware that the dreadful practices of monocultural plantings, like the almond industry, and the continued use of pesticides makes it very difficult for our wee ones. But the overall tone of Attracting Native Pollinators is in recognizing the broad spectrum of pollinators in our environments and focusing on the planting of the correct flowers for your locale, taking into account the need for host plants for butterflies as well as those that will later attract them. Chapters include Strategies to Help Pollinators, Providing Foraging Habitat, Nesting and Egg-Laying Sites for Pollinators, Pollinator Conservation on Farms as well as chapters designed for those in more urban environments.

a gentle wasp
photo credit: Rollin Coville

This book is much more than a resource on how to improve habitat for native pollinators. It is a step-by-step guide for changing our stewardship of the Earth; it is a tangible way for people of all ages to make a difference. Active participation in this vital, grass-roots revolution is easy: Plant flowers.
~Dr. Marla Spivak, from the foreword

an underwing moth
photo credit: Bryan R. Reynolds

I was particularly delighted that Attracting Native Pollinators makes clear that, generally speaking, wasps are gentle creatures. Those who have read Plant Whatever Brings You Joy will recall my story of discovering that paper wasps that had built a nest right outside my back patio door were a source of joy and discovery for me once I’d accepted that they were not the fearful critters I’d imagined.

Another section of the book I found particularly interesting were the pages on creating natural nests to attract more solitary native bees, such as leafcutter or mason bees. Check this out!

photo credit: Lloyd Crim

How to Create a Stem Bundle

Cut each stem below a node (usually indicated by a ridge) to create a handful of tubes each with one open end. Strap the tubes together into a tight bundle with wire, string or tape, making certain that the closed ends of the stems are all at the same end of the bundle.

A variation of this is to tightly pack the stems–open ends out–into a tin can, paper milk carton, square plastic bucket, or short section of PVC pipe. You could even make a wooden frame or open sided birdhouse to hold them.

They then go on to explain that you need to place the bundles in a sheltered location, stems horizontal to the ground–or slightly tilted downward–with the holes facing east to receive the warmth of the morning sun.

Do you not love this? Imagine doing this with your children or grandchildren! What an enriching memory for them. And what a teaching.

Just knowing this book was on its way to me I immediately began to look more carefully at what other insects were coming and going in my garden other than my beloved honeybees and bumblebees. I was particularly delighted to find this visitor one morning and she obliged me in staying in one lovely flower long enough for me to capture her on my camera. Anyone know what she is??

Love and garden blessings,
Kathryn xoxo

Book News! Dig It! Magazine is now featuring a wonderful review of Plant Whatever Brings You Joy.
Western North Carolina Woman is featuring an excerpt from Plant Whatever Brings You Joy in December and Ode Magazine is also running an excerpt from my book in their January/February issue!
If you have not yet visited my new book trailer on YouTube, link here!
With Christmas coming I do hope some of you will consider purchasing a copy of Plant Whatever Brings You Joy for a loved one. I hear from booksellers and readers alike, “This is a beautiful gift.”

Thank you to Storey Publishing for permission to reprint their photographs.

6 Responses to “Book Notes: Attracting Native Pollinators”

  1. How beautiful and timely, mom! Creating eco-sustainability – consciously planting for the native bees and butterflies – is so very important and I’m excited to see you learning so much about this. The book looks like an excellent resource for people. Thanks for the recommendation, and Lovely post. Great pics, too!

    Love you,

  2. Hi, Antonia! Thank you! Yes, this book will take many people a long way in educating them on the many things we can do to help our fellow creatures who sustain us daily and ask nothing in return. Love, Mom xoxo

  3. I love how you reach out in your constant quest for knowledge and sharing, dear Kathryn. (Please know I am a doer/believer in attracting pollinators) Yes, you are a gift! Happy Thanksgiving wishes for you and your beautiful Antonia.

  4. Hi, dear Joey! Thank you! Yes, I know you to be a keenly conscious gardener who would always be thinking of planting for our pollinators! You are a gem. Happy Thanksgiving, friend. Kathryn xoxo

  5. I love your idea for the stem bundle house, I will have to try it this spring. Even better was finding out what the beautiful black insect with the blue wings is, we have quite a few of them live in our front plantingbed, so a solitarygentle wasp it is . It totally cured my ingrained fear of wasps since I have gently swatted aside these little guys tons of times just like I do with all of my bees.

  6. Hi, Jessica, and welcome! There’s a wonderful chapter in my book about my learning about how gentle paperwasps are. I had been afraid of them, but learned from a vector control guy in Sonoma Co. that they are actually very dear! Who knew?? I love the stem bundle house idea, too! Good luck with it! Kathryn xoxo

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