Take a moment of pause the next time you’re outside and you may notice a recent increase in activity from some of your busiest (and smallest) neighbors. Many pollinator species, including bees and butterflies, emerge from their winter slumber in spring looking for valuable food resources. Providing them access to flowering plants is a great way to help a wide array of pollinator species. Native plantings also act as natural filters, helping to keep our local freshwater clean, and provide habitat for other wildlife. 

Pollinators need our help. In North America, 1 in 4 wild bee species is at risk of extinction. And pollinators are crucial to healthy natural ecosystems and productive food systems. Approximately one third of all food humans eat depends on pollinators! There are many ways we can help and it starts in our own backyards. Check out our webpage on Planting for Pollinators for more tips on how to provide vital food and habitat for bees and butterflies. And you don’t need much space or experience to make an impact! A few milkweed plants on the edge of a sidewalk or near your front steps can provide resources for many pollinators. 

Another way you can help pollinators is by reducing or eliminating pesticide use. Many pollinators are sensitive to their environments and even small amounts of chemicals can harm or kill them. Look for plants that are not treated with pesticides before transplanting them to your yard. And remember that even some “weeds” such as dandelions, creeping charlie, and clover are actually valuable resources to pollinators. If you choose to get rid of them try manual methods such as digging, pulling, or making a vinegar-based spray. 

Last but not least, spend some time appreciating your neighborhood pollinators! You won’t have to go far to find a few busy bees. Enjoy watching them from a respectful distance and it won’t be long before these hard-working critters steal your heart. 

The Minnesota Zoo would love to see examples of how you used this activity at home! Please share pictures or comments via email at [email protected], and take less than 5 minutes of time to provide us feedback by completing this short survey.