Winter habitat for pollinators
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As the days shorten and the season begins to change, many native pollinators are in search of a nest site or safe place to hibernate over the winter. Follow these steps to ensure your yard is a year-round haven for pollinators.
Rake less, leave more
Rather than raking leaves into a composter this fall, consider piling them under trees and shrubs or adding them to your flowerbeds. Not only will this provide winter habitat for butterflies and bees, it will protect plants from early frosts and add organic matter to your soil. When we remove leaves from our yards in the fall we eliminate the pollinators we work so hard to attract in the summer.
Minimize fall pruning
Many native bees in Calgary spend the winter hibernating in cavities. Rather than cutting back plants in the fall, consider leaving the dried stalks for hibernating pollinators. If pruning is unavoidable, check the stems of woody plants for ‘capped’ nest cells made of mud, leaves or plant matter. If you find stems with nests, place them somewhere cool and dry until spring arrives.
Provide shelter from the cold
Most native pollinators rely on natural features such as rocks, logs and wood debris to provide shelter through the winter. Consider providing additional winter habitat for cavity-nesting pollinators by building a mason bee house, or for ground-nesting pollinators by leaving patches of bare soil. To further help ground-nesting pollinators, mulch with compost rather than wood chips and postpone early spring tilling.