Dealing with pollinator issues is a tricky business, but the solutions are as close as your garden or yard, according to Jason Pagel.
“I would say, just planting (the types of) flowers, trees and shrubs that attract them (is the best approach). That gives them a place to forage and to live,” he said.
Common examples include “basic flowers that attract the bugs. There’s wildflowers you can plant or trees that bloom, like redbud trees,” he said.
Also, “when things are blooming, at this time of year, it’s key not to be using insecticides,” he said.
Drift from chemical sprays outside of a yard or an orchard can make life unlivable for bees.
“The bees are going outside the orchard to gather nectar and pollen. If chemicals are drifting elsewhere, the bees can pick up that stuff elsewhere,” he said.
This is especially true of broad spectrum insecticides, which is why Pagel prefers those developed for one or two specific types of insects – when he has to use them.
“It (a broad spectrum insecticide) could kill them, or they pick it up, and take it back to the beehive, and then, it can kill more in the hive. That’s why it’s important for us not to be spraying insecticides, unless it’s absolutely necessary,” he said.
His uncle, state Rep. Dave Pagel, agrees that filling a garden or a yard with flowering plants that attract pollinators is the best approach.
“I’m far from an expert, but anything that produces attractive pollen for bee populations is a good thing. The bees need an ongoing source of different flowers that mature at different times of the season,” he said.
For more information, the Pagels recommend checking with MSU’s Cooperative Extension Service, which can provide more detail about ways to attract pollinators.
In Berrien County, visit: http://msue.anr.msu.edu/county/info/berrien.
Taking the bigger picture of land use into account is also important, said Meghan Milbrath, an academic specialist in Michigan State University’s Department of Entomology.
“We have an environment that is not healthy for pollinators, in a lot of places. That’s why it’s not easily solved. What bees is need is clean forage – they need flowers that aren’t sprayed. There’s a lot of low-hanging fruit, of places that aren’t used, where we could put flowers back in the landscape,” she said.
For additional information, and pollinator-related resources, visit: https://pollinators.msu.edu/resources/pollinator-planting1/, or http://www.sandhillbees.com/.