Farming for Pollinators
Restoration Project 2019 – 2020
Upgrading the wildflower meadow 2020
Now that the wildflower meadow has wintered one year and has established, it is down to maintenance. Within the meadow itself, we will be adding various plants and grasses so that this meadow will also work double duty as a seed orchard for our native plant nursery.
Upgrading the margins of the meadow. Pictures of adding shrubs and trees around field margins. These are rarer plants and can act as a seed reserve. Also great feeding values.
Finally, we have pealed off the fabric and worked the land as weed seeds germinated. A trick is to broadcast your seeds just prior to a rain. In this way, the seed are soaked into the ground and birds do not feast on them. Now it is just sunshine, rain and time. The most critical factor will be watering as the seeds germinate.
The introduction of insectary strips – 2020
Basically, we are introducing non native ‘ cover crops ‘ to the farm. These cover crops are composed of blended mixes of crops that are highly appealing to bees on a world level. These flowers will have different shapes and types to accommodate a large variety of long and short tongued bees. We will also extend bloom time to increase level of feeding.
This insectary strip is composed of different high appeal clovers and sunflowers. We added bulbs of high appeal flowers for our adored hummingbirds. Remember that these strips are highly variable and most bees attracted by these crops are usually common. Less common bees often require plant communities comprised of primarily native plants.
These insectary strips will fallow after their blooming and frost and die in place. These areas will provide critical minimal ground cover for over wintering ground dwelling bees.
Installing Native Meadows – 2019
Over the course of many years we will slowly transform non native grassed fields filled with invasive species to a more productive, natural and pollinator friendly setting.
Setting the stage is paramount. Stage one will be to solarize the sites for at least 6 weeks. We will be using a dark landscape fabric that is reusable since we did not want to have massive amounts of plastic finding its way to the dump. We want to choose the softest impact on the land.
As we are prepping the land for our pollinators, we became Bee City certified. This is about, all of us, learning to live in harmony with all our animal pollinators. Farming need not be adversarial to the health and well being of our wildlife.
While we waited for the solarization process to complete and the weather to change, we planted fruit trees. Our early flowering fruit trees are the target of orchard bees. It takes 250 honeybees to do the same pollination as 1 orchard bee for fruit trees. Orchard bees are far more efficient at pollinating our early spring crops and fly at slightly colder temperatures than honeybees, giving them a slight flight advantage.
We have now thrown a wider net. These native bee boxes are for later emerging native bees, such as leaf cutter bees. These bees are important pollinators of our food such as tomatoes and squashes. They have been stationed near food growing areas to increase pollination activity and, in the end, increase food production. We all benefit.
Upgrading the native bee boxes 2020
We have now added permanent bee boxes for native bees throughout the property. These blue ones are for mason bees. We have these boxes positioned close to early blooming crops such as our many fruit trees and early blooming native shrubs such as the cherries, red buds and service berries.