How to Raise Mason Bees: Start by Feeding Them

Native plants are basis of our food supply

Native plants are basis of our food supply

Even though I call myself a “lawn chair gardener,” my aim is not actually to promote laziness, but to and make life simpler by working with the Earth’s natural processes, rather than against them.

I started on my journey over thirty years ago when the lake I grew up swimming in was no longer swimmable. Seeing the Earth’s imbalance motivated me to start changing the status quo—literally in my own backyard…and front yard too! And since most land in this country is privately owned, our actions can make a big impact—either positively or negatively.

Did you know that we’ve lost 50% of our songbirds in the last 40 years? And monarch populations have declined by 90% in the last two decades? And these are just showy species that people pay attention to. What about all of the unsung heroes out there like native “solitary” bees that account for 90% of the bees worldwide and do the majority of the pollination? Their populations are declining too.

15,364 scientists from 184 countries signed “A Second Notice” which is an open letter to humanity pleading for humans to cut greenhouse gases and reverse the trend of collapsing biodiversity. They are seeking to raise awareness that a mass species extinction is currently happening. This is the sixth mass extinction in the last 540 million years.

How did we get here? It’s simple. Across the US, we’ve taken away 95% of the base of the food chain—native plants, or the plants that are indigenous to a region. And we’ve replaced them with urban spaces, agriculture, invasive plants, ornamental plants, and lawn. Did you know that we have three times more lawn than we do our largest agricultural crop of corn? And ornamental plants that are often non-native or cultivated for showy traits offer little nutrition to native insects and wildlife.

When I do pollinator puppet shows with kids and talk about these concepts, the kids understand right away that if we pull out the foundation of the ecosystem, the tower will collapse. Maybe we can learn something from the kids’ honest perspective.

There’s no doubt about it, this is heavy stuff. But let’s ask the kids. What do we need to do to fix this problem? Put the base layer of blocks back—the native plants! It can be done.

So let’s get to work! Let’s “flip” our yards, our schoolyards, community center spaces—all the grassy areas that aren’t actively used as play or gathering spaces and replant the ecological communities that were once there so we can support the pollinators that sustain us! Pledge to Plant for Pollinators and Clean Water at this website. It also has links to help you get started. if you have further questions, ask me. I’m a garden coach.

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