Are you a farmer thinking about native bees? Perhaps you would consider making your land more pollinator-friendly.

Native bees can help pollinate your crop for free !  All you have to do is provide a place for them to live, some food, and not spray them with pesticides. Even if you use honeybees for pollination, native bees can make your honey bees more efficient. Without native bees in the area, honeybees just fly a short distance to find food. Bees aren't supposed to be lazy, but they'll take the easiest path like anyone else. When native bees visit the same flowers, honeybees have to compete for food. That makes them fly further, visit more flowers, and do a more thorough job of pollination.

How to Make a Better Home for Native Bees

Leave an area for habitat. Most native bees (about 90% of native species) live in small holes in the ground. A modest open space, untilled, will provide lots of homes for many kinds of native bees. Fallen trees, branches, rock piles, and other debris can make plenty of crevices where bees will make homes for themselves, and their small families. Remember, these are insects that have lived on your land for thousands of years - you don't have to build special homes for them, just make a place where they can live naturally.

Mow after the wildflowers bloom. Most people mow their margins, ditches, etc., when the wildflowers are at full bloom. That's because we notice the plants when the flowers bloom, and we think, "Hmm, better mow that." But this is peak time for native bees to feed themselves. Wait for a week until the flowers fade - no seeds will form in that short time - and mow when the flowers are off-peak.

If you  have an apple orchard, your apple flowers bloom in May, maybe June. What will your native bees eat during July, August, and September? You could plant some summer flowers for them, or you could allow goldenrods and asters to bloom nearby. Just taking your bees into consideration when you think about mowing can make a big difference.

Or, perhaps you have a field of pumpkins. What will your native bees eat in May and June, before the pumpkin flowers appear? You'll get better pollination in the pumpkins if you let those un-mown areas grow wild from spring until July, then mow when the pumpkin flowers appear.

Don't worry about killing the bees with the mower. They can see you coming and they can fly.

And have a closer look - you'll be amazed when you start to see how much activity there is in your wild flowers. If you just see bumblebees, look again. You'll also see lots of kinds of smaller bees, some green, some blue, some with yellow stripes, some just black, like ants with wings. Most people notice the bumblebees first, but they're all native bees that can help you for free. If you want to learn more about the kinds of native bees that may be on your land, click here.

You might also want to make your own native bee (and other insects) nests!