Creating Places for Pollinators

Whether working on a few acres or a few square feet, there are many ways that SVT, our partners, and our volunteers are improving habitat for native pollinators.

To learn how you can create a garden that provides habitat for native pollinators, see Your Garden and Native Pollinators.

Spreading the Word

The Native Pollinator Task Force of the Metrowest Conservation Alliance wants to protect the rare and declining native pollinators of our region. The group encourages everyone to plant the specific wildflowers and shrubs that these declining species need, especially the native plants recommended by Dr. Robert Gegear (see story below).

Last fall, four Task Force members (including SVT’s Matt Morris, second from right) toured a wildflower area in Southborough. 

Become a Citizen Scientist

If creating a pollinator garden isn’t for you, you could help Dr. Robert Gegear, a biologist at UMass Dartmouth, research the foraging behavior of bumblebees. Using the Beecology app, you can submit photos of bumblebees on flowers and also identify the type of bee and the type of plant. Dr. Gegear uses the information to create a list of garden plants that best provide the nectar and pollen needed by declining species of native bees.

Download a copy of Dr. Gegear's list. 

Farm Workers

While non-native honey bees often receive credit for pollinating our food crops, native bees and other pollinators can sometimes do the job more efficiently. Farmers are increasingly recognizing the importance of native pollinators.

Our partners at Stearns Farm CSA in Framingham encourage native pollinators to visit by not spraying pesticides and by planting a variety of flowers and herbs that attract pollinators all season long.

Every Garden Makes a Difference

You don’t need acres of land to help our pollinators. Small gardens like the ones at Farm Pond in Framingham and Cordaville Hall in Southborough also provide good habitat. One garden can be the start of a network of gardens that encompasses whole neighborhoods, towns, counties, and states.

Photo by Freddie Gillespie

Wildflower Meadows

One way SVT helps pollinators is by creating large gardens that provide essential habitat. In 2016, we created wildflower meadows at Greenways Conservation Area in Wayland and Wolbach Farm in Sudbury. The patch of wildflowers in the North Field at Greenways now provides an abundance of blooms that pollinators enjoy.

Controlling Invasive Plants

By removing non-native invasive plants, we can prevent them from overtaking the native plants that pollinators eat during their early larvae/caterpillar stages. Caterpillars that are native to Massachusetts typically will not eat plants from outside the region. Plus, some invasive plants like garlic mustard contain chemicals that can kill butterfly caterpillars. SVT often hosts invasive plant-pulling days to give our native plants a fighting chance to survive.

Interested in volunteering for projects like this? Visit our Volunteeer page.

A Place Called Home

While native plants provide a critical food source, pollinators also need a place to live. You can give bees a “wing up” and establish a “bee hotel” by drilling holes in an old log to create cavities where they can nest.

At Wolbach Farm in Sudbury, SVT has installed a larger bee hotel next to our pollinator garden.

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