By Sarah Fiorello

The time to act is now! Here is a list of simple steps you can take to improve pollinator health in your community.

  1. Provide local native plants with a variety of flower shapes and sizes to accommodate the diverse forms of pollinators.
  2. Plan for at least one species of plant to be in bloom during each month of your growing season.
  3. Buy local and choose native species whenever possible.
  4. Leave areas with leaf litter and dead branches year round, especially in the fall to provide overwintering sites for pollinators. If cutting back, leave at least two feet of stems.
  5. Leave patches of bare earth for solitary bees to nest.
  1. Make sure you or your lawn care company aren’t using neonicotinoid pesticides—consider pollinator friendly alternatives if you are. Also consider integrated pest management.
  2. Arrange plants in clusters so that pollinators have an easier time finding them. The Xerces Society recommends, “Many bee pollinators prefer to forage on the nectar and pollen from a single plant species during their foraging outings. Bee biologists call this “flower constancy.” Therefore, grouping plants in single-species masses of five to seven plants is more advantageous for the bees than having just one or two plants or dispersing them throughout the landscape.” Cornell researchers recommend aiming for an area of three square meters per grouping of one species.
  3. Consider switching to a “flowering lawn.”
  4. Discuss pollinator conservation with your local representatives.
  5. Consider providing a small water source, such as a bird bath, to help thirsty insects in your garden.
  6. Make your own bee hotel!
  7. Cut back perennials in the spring, not winter, to not disturb any pollinator overwintering sites. If cutting back in spring, leave two feet of stems.
  8. Some butterflies only lay eggs on a few types of plants. Research endangered butterflies in your area and see what you can plant to support their caterpillars.
  9. Sow plants with regard to their final sizes so as to make sure they don’t shade each other out.

More About the Buzzline

Useful Websites

Sources and links for further exploration.

Insect Diversity

Besides bees, what other insects and animal are pollinators?

Botanic Buzzline

This pollinator pathway was developed by four Cornell undergraduates to address pollinator decline in the Ithaca community.