JoAnne Skelly: Bee kind to pollinators

Kelly Clark

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Carson City's Bee City USA #76, wants to remind people that June is Pollinator Month and June 20 to 26 is National Pollinator Week. Their mission is to help expand pollinator habitat, encourage integrated pest management to benefit all pollinators, and to educate the public about the value of pollinators.
I asked Gillian Kerr, long-time beekeeper, and Linda Groves, master beekeeper, to tell me what they want people to know to help bees and other pollinators thrive.

What do you as beekeepers want home gardeners to know?
When planting your gardens, think like a pollinator! Decide the style of plantings, formal, informal, wild or a mix, but plant a diversity of flowering plants with abundant pollen and nectar, as well as specific plants for feeding butterfly and moth caterpillars.
Be patient when planting native plants, because they take longer to get established. Remember to water native plants the first year, even if they will not need much water when established.
Native plants attract native bees, like the 13 bumblebees which live in Nevada. While there are 20,000 native bees worldwide and 3,600 in the United States, there are 1,000 in Nevada. Be kind to them by being a little messy and leaving areas of your yard natural. Wait until May to clean beds of debris, because there are bees in there waiting to emerge for the new year.
Avoid chemicals like insecticides, fungicides and especially neonicotinoids.

What plants and planting techniques are good for bees and other pollinators?
The ideal planting provides at least three different blooming plants per season: spring, summer and fall. Some plants provide pollen needed to supply food to baby bees. While almost all plants provide some nectar, plants are not equal in this. Many hybrid, cultivated plants actually supply little nectar, especially plants with double blooms. Bees are attracted to flower nectar with the highest content of sucrose and glucose.
Bees prefer “floral fidelity,” areas of the same flower planted together. It allows the bees to “work” the flowers in one area, minimizing energy expenditure. This makes them more effective and efficient when collecting nectar and pollen.
Know the microclimates of your yard and plant accordingly. Planting flowering trees such as lindens provides spring forage. Planting perennial plants like salvia is an easy way to provide summer blooms. Asters grow well into the fall. Woody perennial plants require less maintenance and, in some cases, less water.
Purple is the bees favorite color and many herbs are purple and easy to grow. Rosemary, chives, lavender and borage have long-lasting blooms and feeds you, the bees and your vegetables.
Carson City provides a great list of plants for pollinators and other pollinator and bee-friendly information at
Mark your calendar: Thursday, June 9, 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. University of Nevada, Reno professor Matt Forister will present on “Landscaping for Butterflies” at the Studio at Adams Hub, located at 177 W. Proctor St., Carson City. Open to the public.
More on bees and pollinators next week.
The Bee City website is at .
JoAnne Skelly is associate professor & extension educator emerita of the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Reach her at


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