Chickens to Go
  The Birds and the Bees for Your Flowers and Trees
Pennsylvania, USA

Encourage Pollination while Discouraging Damage to your Home

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What is Pollination?

Pollination is one step in the process of how new plants are made.   Pollen is the powder that is inside of a flower.. The pollen from one flower fertilizes other flowers so that they can reproduce.  

When a plant produces flowers, the flowers need to get pollen from another flower from the same type of plant to fertilize that flower so that it can develop in to a fruit or vegetable. if the flower doesn't get fertilized with pollen, the flower will fall off the plant and never produce any fruits or vegetables. Once the fruit or vegetable grow, they contain seeds, which will develop into a new plant the following season.  

Since a flowering plant can't go anywhere to pollinate other plants, the pollen has to get to the other flowers some other way. 

There are a few flowering plants that can pollinate themselves and others that use the wind or water to carry their pollen.  However, 70% - 90%, of flowering plants depend on animals and insects to carry their pollen and deposit it on similar flowers.

These animals and insects are called pollinators. Successful pollination can require several visits to the same flower, so many different pollinators are needed to improve the chance of a successful pollination

200,000 Species of Pollinators Native to North America

Only 1,000 Native Pollinator Species are not Insects::
  1. Bats
  2. Hummingbirds
  3. Small Mammals

The Remaining 199,000 are Insects:
  1. Bees 
  2. Butterflies
  3. Moths
  4. Beetles and Flies
  5. Wasps
  6. ​Ants
Why Should I Care About Pollination?

Approximately 75% of the crop plants grown for food, fiber, beverages, spices, condiments, and medicines need to be pollinated by animals and insects.  

Without pollinators, we wouldn't get to enjoy blueberries, chocolate, coffee, melons, peaches, pumpkins, vanilla, or almonds.  See the Table below for more examples of the 1,000 foods that depend on Pollinators.
























Generalist Pollinators and Generalist-Pollinated Plants

Most pollinators and plants are generalists, meaning that they pollinate many species of flowering plants and that the plants can be pollinated by many different species of polliinators.  This helps to ensure the survival of both the plant and the pollinator for several reasons:
  1. If one plant or pollinator species suffers a devestating drop in numbers or dies out completely, the other pollinators and plant species will survive.  
  2. Both plants and pollinators are very resilient in hard times
  3. Both plant and pollinator species are more likely to thrive in large numbers because of a great variation in types of pollen available, the size of the territory of the pollinator, and methods of transporting the pollen.

Specialist Pollinators and Specialist Pollinated Plants

A very small number of pollinators are specialist pollinators, meaning they will only collect nectar or pollen from a select few plants or types of plants.  There are also some specialist-pollinated plants that depend on one or very few species of pollinators.  Although there are very few specialist pollination systems in the Northern and Eastern parts of the United States, Several moths are considered to be specialists because they are attracted to flowers that bloom at night.  

The specialist pollination system is a fairly fragile one,  If one species of either the Specialist pollinator or the specialist-pollinated plant die out, the other will die out as well.  there are some benefits to this arrangement:

  1. Both the specialist pollinators and the specialist-pollinated plants have developed physical structures and adopted behaviors that allow them to effeciently exploit the other.
  2. Specialist pollinators are more productive.  Since they pollinate only one or a few types of flower, their chances of transporting pollen directly to the same type of flower is much higher than a generalist, who may touch 100 flower species in a day, but only three were the same type, so only three were pollinated.  
  3. One flower type is pollinated by several types of one particular species of pollinator, so if one type of the species dies off, the flower species will survive..
  4. One species of pollinator will pollinate several types of one particular species of plant,.  If one type of the plant species dies off, the pollinator still has other types within the species to pollinate, ensuring their survival, as well..
Solitary v. ? bees
What is a Solitary Bee?

Solitary bees are bees that care for themselves. Unlike bees that live in hives, there is no queen, and there are no worker or drone bees.There are only male and female bees.

The female builds and maintains her nest, finds her own food, lays and cares for her eggs and larvae.  

Solitary bee species can live in truly solitary settings or aggregate, communal, or semi-social groups.   Even in the aggregate, communal, or semi-social groups, the female maintains a solitary nesting area.

Most people are familiar with honey bees,  but did you know that honey bees are not native to North America? 

Of the over 4,000 species of bees native to North America, most of them are solitary bees. 

Solitary bee species are non-aggressive garden helpers. The females only sting when attacked or threatened..  the males do not even have stingers.
Do Mason Bees and Carpenter Bees Make Honey? 

No.  Mason and Carpenter bees do not make honey, but that is no reason to discourage them from making a home in your garden!

All solitary bee species are efficient and effective pollinators and we need them to pollinate our food supply.
 
Both Mason and Carpenter bees are native to north America, so they are a perfefct fit for  pollinating our native plants.

Since Solitary bees do not live in hives, they are not affected by colony collapse phenemenon and do not suffer large losses due to epidemic parasitic or microbial infections.

A Mason Bee house is exactly what it sounds like - a house for Mason Bees!  
Bee Habitats

Common Solitary Bees

Bumblebee

Carpenter Bee

Mason Bee 

How Can I Encourage Pollinators to Visit my Garden?
.
  1. ​​Design your garden so that you have plants in bloom from spring through fall.. 
  2. Select plants that are native to your region using plants that provide nectar for adults and a food source for larvae. 
  3. Select old-fashioned varieties of flowers. Modern plants have been bred for size, color, and more blooms.  Many have lost their scent, nectar, and pollen that attracts and feeds pollinators.
  4. Provide houses for bats and native bees. 
  5. Avoid pesticides, even natural ones.
  6. Provide clean water for pollinators

5 Benefits of Mason Bees in your Garden

  1. ​75% of all flowering plants rely on pollinators to live, grow, and produce fruits, vegetables, and flowers.  
  2. Mason Bees are solitary bees that live alone instead of in hives or colonies.
  3. Mason bees are not aggressive.  They rarely sting unless they are being attacked.
  4. Unlike honey bees, Mason Bees are native to North America, so they are a perfect pollinator for native plants.  
  5. Mason Bees are generalists, meaning that they pollinate many different types of flowering plants, native and non-native .