Think about bees when planting

Now is a good time for homeowners in Oregon to take steps that will “bee friendly” to a very important ally in the insect world.

Photo by Emily Mentzer.
Now is a good time for homeowners in Oregon to take steps that will “bee friendly” to a very important ally in the insect world.

Warmer temperatures this spring are generally promoting early flowering of plants as well as moving up the timetable for pollinator activity. Now is a good time for homeowners in Oregon to take steps that will “bee friendly” to a very important ally in the insect world.

“We are starting to see a lot of bees emerging, particularly native pollinators,” says Rose Kachadoorian, an entomologist with the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s Pesticides Program. “Honeybees are showing up in the urban environment, too. It’s a perfect time for homeowners to start looking at the plants in their yard and garden to make sure they are pollinator-friendly.”

Doing some research ahead of the purchase is helpful, with many websites providing good information on which plants are best for pollinators. Most garden centers are also knowledgeable and can direct homeowners to the ideal plants. There is also good information on the labels of the plants themselves, including the timing of blooms. The marketplace has responded to the heightened awareness of pollinator protection.

Once the plants are purchased, putting them into the ground should be strategic. Just like last year, dry conditions may prevail this summer in many parts of Oregon, requiring wise use of water. Placing plants together that have the same water requirements can be more efficient. One component of nectar is water, so bee-friendly plants need to be fairly well hydrated even during a hot and dry summer. The homeowner’s job is only partially done once the plants are in the ground. 

Maintaining the plants is important to sustaining pollinator activity.

If pesticides need to be used, homeowners absolutely need to read and follow the label. The US Environmental Protection Agency approves the language on pesticide labels and has clarified them to include pollinator-specific information. Certain products containing neonicotinoids — a special class of pesticides — are required to contain a bee advisory section that includes a bee icon informing the user that the product is a potential hazard to bees. The label language prohibits use of the pesticide product when bees are foraging and plants are in bloom. It also highlights the importance of avoiding drift during application. This information is consistent with messages delivered by ODA the past couple of years. The collective steps taken by all Oregonians can go a long way in providing a safe haven for pollinators.

For more information, contact Rose Kachadoorian at 503-986-4651.

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