Updated: Mar 15
Blog #10 - “What’s the Buzz”
Building a Pollinator Paradise = Wind, Temperature, and Light
Dr. Becki Lynch, Bloom and Grow Garden Society
March 3, 2022
Now that we’ve covered the basics of feeding, nesting and protection, how can a Pollinator Paradise be created? A paradise means your pollinators will love it so much, they will never leave – can you take the next step?
Control the amount of wind in your yard by adding wind breaks. Do you have places where the wind gushes through? Why?
*Bees generally stop flying/foraging when the wind reaches 12-15 mph, but beyond 5 mph, the energy needed to forage weakens their system.
*Different butterflies can handle different wind rates based upon how fast they can fly. Generally, the smaller the butterfly, the less wind it will tolerate, but anything above 8 mph will take additional energy to forage.
What to do? Find those windy spots and plant protective shrubs, place a slatted windbreak with a vine, or add some fencing. As long as the pollinators have a corner/wall as a safe space with plants, they will flourish.
Be aware of the effect of temperature both internally and externally for pollinators.
Butterflies can’t fly if their body temperature is less than 86 degrees Fahrenheit! They are cold blooded and have no means for regulating their body temperatures. They practice thermoregulation by basking on warm surfaces to raise their internal temperature.
A bee’s minimum operating temperature is 85 degrees. It can raise its thoracic temperature roughly 30ºF above the ambient temperature while it is flying. That means if the outside temperature is less than 55, it will not be able to forage.
What to do? Provide wide flat stones in the sun for basking, as well as bare ground in full sun for butterflies. For bees, by having nectar and pollen closely available, when the temperature rises, they will not need to forage far to garner strength/energy. Your garden will be quiet in the morning until the temperatures rise to at least 70 – 75 degrees.
3. Night light – In the past 20 years, there has been a 70% increase in the use of night artificial lighting. Especially in an urban/suburban setting, it is difficult to avoid.
* The latest research data shows that 300 pollinator species visited the flowers of around 60 plant species on rural meadows without any artificial light sources in the vicinity. On meadows with experimentally set up street lights, the nocturnal pollination visits were 62% lower. Why? Are they confused?
* This is a relatively new area of concern, and the ecological impact of light pollution needs to be more researched more thoroughly to avert adverse effects on the environment.
What to do? While protective night lighting is essential for our homes, we can minimize the effect by installing motion lights. Another general technique is to place decorative lighting (spotlights) in the front yard and leave the back yard as dark as possible with only motion lights.
Try to give your pollinators a space at least 10 ft x 10 ft that is as dark as you can make it.
So there you have it – as far as the habitat, you now have all the elements of a Pollinator Paradise. Next month we will begin to dig deep into PLANTS!!