Let it bee: Welcoming local pollinators to your backyard

ST. LOUIS – On a sunny, warm day, most people don’t like bees invading their patio time. However, bees, butterflies and other pollinators are threatened by habitat loss, pesticides and disease. The Missouri Department of Conservation is asking you to “befriend” native pollinators.

Missouri is home to around 450 species of native bees, including bumblebees, carpenter bees, and sweat bees. Many fear being stung, but urban wildlife biologist Erin Shank says most native bees are harmless.

“Most of them are ground-nesting, solitary bees, so they don’t behave like the honey bee that most people are familiar with that isn’t a native bee,” Shank said. “They don’t have a beehive to defend. And with these few species, only the females can sting, not the males. So a large number of the bees that you observe in your garden cannot really sting you. “

Bees do the vital job of pollinating flowering plants, providing every third bite of food we eat.

“So we don’t have things like strawberries and almonds and blueberries and apples and … cucumbers, tomatoes that you know. The products that we enjoy on our plates are all the tastier and more nutritious thanks to the pollinators. “

Sometimes pollinators like the honey bee swarm or pollinate in unsafe locations and need to be removed.

“We’ve seen them on cars before. We see them in grills and in various areas, ”said Jay Everitt, technical director at Rottler Pest Solutions. “But often, if you just leave them alone, they’ll move on.”

According to Everitt, if they have to go, professionals can eliminate the threat but also protect the bees.

“We have some special beekeepers who can actually set a trap,” he said. “And they will literally put these bees in a beehive and then move them to a place that is a little safer for them and the people.”

On the internet: 10 ways to save the bees

You can aid pollinators by incorporating native plants with brightly colored flowers into your landscaping. Flowering trees like redbuds and American plums are great too.

“While many of us have found over the past year that our only safe recreation is outdoors, we have a new appreciation for outdoors, largely thanks to pollinators for pollinating plants for germination and generations of flowering plants , Forests and prairies exhibit in our region, “said Shank.

No yard? No problem. Shank says residents living in urban areas can offer bees native flowers in a planter box or pot, or by setting up a community garden.

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