Western Pollinator Wildflower Seed Mix - This pollinator wildflower seed mixture is for pollinator conservation in the western United States and southwest Canada. The eastern planting boundary would be a line straight south from the eastern borders of North and South Dakota. This wildflower seed mixture contains a balanced blend of mostly native flowers to provide nectar and pollen throughout the growing season. This wildflower mix includes 2 native legumes, annuals and perennials.
Western Pollinator Mixture Contents:
Siberian Wallflower (Cheiranthus allionii)
Dwarf Godetia (Clarkia amoena)
Clarkia (Clarkia unguiculata)
Rocky Mountain Beeplant (Cleome serrulata)
Plains Coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria)
Fleabane Daisy (Erigeron speciosus)
California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica)
Blanketflower (Gaillardia aristata)
Globe Gilia (Gilia capitata)
Utah Sweetvetch (Hedysarum boreale)
Showy Goldeneye (Heliomeris multiflora)
Golden Aster (Heterotheca villosa)
Dotted Gayfeather (Liatris punctata)
Blue Flax (Linum perenne)
Yellow Lupine (Lupinus densiflorus aureus)
Prairie Aster (Machaeranthera tanacetifolia)
Baby Blue-Eyes (Nemophila menziesii)
Corn Poppy (Papaver rhoeas)
Rocky Mountain Penstemon (Penstemon strictus)
California Bluebell (Phacelia campanularia)
Lacy Phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia)
Prairie Coneflower (Ratibida columnifera)
Honey Bee Pollination
Honey bees don’t just produce wax and honey – they are extremely valuable pollinators of many agricultural crops. Honey bees are not native to the U.S. – they originally came from Europe and were brought over by early colonists. The list of crops that are pollinated by honey bees is endless – including fruits, berries, nuts, clovers, alfalfa, canola, and many vegetables. Alfalfa is an important forage crop in the U.S. Honey bee colonies have long been managed by beekeepers to provide pollination services for crops as well as for honey production.
Honey bee populations have been in decline in recent years. According to the U.S. Agricultural Research Service, there has been a loss of about one third of honey bee hives in beekeeping operations across the United States. Recent studies suggest that these declines have been caused by the combination of several factors which may include infectious pathogens, malnutrition, stress, and pesticides.
Most recently, beekeepers have been striving to reduce pesticide use near hives and investing more in food supplies for their bees. Planting flowers that produce pollen and nectar, especially during the weeks when crops are not blooming, help to provide nutrition to honey bees throughout the entire season. With enhanced nutrition and health, honey bees will be better equipped to fend off disease, pathogens, and the effects of stress.
Native Bee Pollination
According to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, there are over 4000 species of native bees in the U.S. alone. Bees are the most predominant pollinators of flowering plants in nature, thus contributing a vital service to the ecosystem. Because of this important role, bees are referred to as “keystone organisms”.
Some native bees have names that reflect how they build nests—leafcutter bees, mason bees, miner bees, carpenter bees, digger bees, etc. Others are named for their behavior, which include bumble bees, sweat bees, and cuckoo bees. Finally there are some bees that are named for the types of plants they pollinate such as squash, sunflower and blueberry bees.
If honey bees are in short supply, the pollination needs of many crops can often be filled by native bees. Research has shown that native bees can be major pollinators of agricultural crops and sometimes do the job more efficiently. For instance, the blue orchard bee is a primary pollinator of cultivated apples. Another important crop pollinator is the western bumble bee, which has been used to pollinate cranberries, avocadoes, and blueberries. Native squash bees are major pollinators of cultivated squashes. Some native bees are even commercially managed like honey bees to provide pollination services.
Native Bee Conservation
There was a time when native bees and wild honey bees performed all of a farmer’s pollination needs because of the presence of natural areas nearby. These natural areas provided nesting sites, food and protection for the bees. Because of the way agricultural landscapes are developed today, there is often a lack of native bee habitat and forage near farms. Techniques to encourage native bees to live in your area are simple to implement. These can be done on a farm or in a home garden.
There are 2 ways to engage in native bee conservation. You can preserve known nesting and foraging sites on your property, or you can create them. Good bee habitat must include water, areas for nesting or egg-laying and secure over-wintering sites. Flowers that provide nectar and pollen throughout the growing season will provide adequate food. These habitat and forage areas should never be treated with insecticides or other harmful chemicals. If insecticides are utilized in the vicinity of bee habitat, they should be applied when they have the lowest impact possible on local bee populations. This might entail spraying pesticides only when bees are not active.