BEE A HELPER — Artichokes grow along a beachfront near Clinton, Wash., in this Associated Press file photo. Pollinators, like the bees shown here, like their purple thistle-like blossoms. (AP File Photo)

Resolve to protect pollinators this new (gardening) year!

Published Jan 7, 2018 at 9:00am

It’s 2018 — and gardeners have more opportunities to make their resolutions come true, because we are always trying to make our gardens better.

There are many ideas and changes you can resolve to do as a gardener.

Here is an idea: Resolve to protect the pollinators.

Pollinators boost the productivity of our food crops and help ensure the reproduction and survival of many flowering plants.

The different pollinators

Learn about the pollinator players; insects are only one type of pollinator.

There are four major groups of insect pollinators: Bees and wasps, beetles, butterflies and moths, and flies. Some are generalists; they visit many different plants. Others are specialists, concentrating on one plant.

All insect pollinators go through complete metamorphosis: Egg, larva (caterpillar, grub or maggot) pupa, and winged adult.

These are dramatic changes and it’s important to recognize what the insect looks like at each stage in order to preserve them.

There are different species that pollinate plants. Certain vertebrate pollinators include bats and hummingbirds.

Bees are major pollinators we hear about the most; honeybees are the “queens” of the bee pollinators. However, New York is home to over 450 native bee species and they are all important too.

Create a pollinator
friendly backyard

For the new year, resolve to make your landscape a pollinator magnet.

The choices you make in your own backyard can make a difference by providing a habitat and food source for pollinators. Like all living things, pollinators will need food, shelter, and water.

Select a sunny area in your landscape and evaluate the area for existing nest sites, nectar sources and habitat. Then add plants that will increase nectar and pollen sources through spring, summer and fall months.  

Creating a diverse habitat that has multiple plant varieties will attract the most pollinators.

Flower size is also important; not all pollinators like big flowers. Start with 5 to 8 different plant species if possible; grouping plants together will not only create visual impact, but it will make it easier for pollinators to find them and to navigate more efficiently.

Create nesting and overwintering sites. You can simply leave a spot such as a brush or woodpile. Located in a sunny spot, these areas provide good nesting spots for species such as ground bees. You can also build different types of nesting boxes using untreated lumber.  

Reduce pesticide use

Any pesticide, organic or synthetic, has the potential to harm pollinators. There may be times you need a pesticide; choose the least toxic option and apply it in the evening when most pollinators are less active. Always read and follow pesticide labels carefully.

Now, the fun part

The fun part of your pollinator resolution will be to pick the plants.

You don’t need a big garden space; the right plants in containers or raised beds will work. Start your NewYear’s resolution by visiting our website at and learn about how you can do more this year to create a pollinator garden.

Cornell’s Garden Based Learning site at is another resource; under the “Garden Guidance” section, learn more about pollinator protection.

Resolve to do more in 2018 to protect our