Keep an eye out for bees

Q: I saw bees on my crabapple tree in April — loads of them. Now, not a single bee anywhere. There’s lots of the bee’s favorite flowers blooming along with clover. Not a honeybee, mason bee or bumblebee. I am beyond sad. Why bees in spring but not summer?

— Anonymous from Struthers

A: I’ve has this question from a few concerned gardeners.

There are many reasons you are not seeing pollinators in the garden. One is the clover is a specialized plant, requiring pollinators with long tongues.

Another may be that you are not growing what they like.

Yet another may be the lack of native plants compared to hybrids. Some hybrids do not provide the pollen and nectar pollinators want (especially double flower petal cultivars). But, do not count out some hybrids — as some monarda hybrids are great pollinator plants.

Yet another could be that they are attracted to trees at that moment, ones that are not in your yard.

Finally, another reason you may not see them is the way you are looking, the time and so on.

Honeybees are not native pollinators, although we depend on them for a lot of pollination. Both native and non-native pollinators have favorite plants they will go to before others. There are different times of year that different pollinators will go to different plants based on their own preferences and needs.

So it may be time to think about what is growing in your garden to help pollinators.

You can start by growing plants pollinators love. Planting pollinator-preferred plants will help attract them and provide their nutritional needs. Plan to add these plants http://go.osu.edu/ plantsforbees.

Also, look for plants to fill in the voids of preferred plant blooming times in your landscape. So if you didn’t see pollinators on June 10 (for example), you can go to our website (http://go. osu.edu/growingdegrees), put in your ZIP code and that date. It will tell you what plants were in full bloom.

In combination with the preferred plant list, this bloom time information will help you have blooms for pollinators all season.

Until you have a more desirable landscape for pollinators, work to be a better observer. Know that some pollinators do not fly when it is windy. Many are not out in the hottest parts of the day.

The warming of mid-morning is a good time to look. Sit quietly and observe preferred plants. Rethink your idea of a bee. There are many tiny bees that you might not have thought of before.

Also, there are robber flies, flower flies and lots of wasps hanging out right now. We have a color card you can print for basic ID of common pollinators at http://go.osu.edu/ohiobeeid

OSU Extension has a pollinator specialization program, where volunteers across the state collect pollinator information. All the counties here in the Mahoning Valley participate. These volunteers observe pollinators in various habitats and record their data in the Ohio Bee Atlas at http://go.osu.edu/beeatlas. You are welcome to observe and add to the data.

Eric Barrett is OSU Extension educator for Agriculture and Natural Resources in Mahoning County. Call 330-533-5538 to submit your questions. Regular clinic hours are 10am-noon on Thursdays or visit go.osu.edu/virtualclinic


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