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Help the pollinators in your garden.

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Photo courtesy of Rafal N.
If your vegetable or flower garden doesn’t produce as much as you think it should, you may have a pollination problem. The quality and efficiency of a crop largely depends on pollination. Inadequate pollination can result in reduced yields as well as delayed yields and a high percentage of inferior fruits.
 
Honeybees, wasps, butterflies, hornets, bumblebees, bats, hummingbirds, flies, beetles and moths are all pollinators.  
 
All about the bees
 
Bees travel from flower to flower, collecting nectar that is later on converted to honey, and in the process pick up pollen grains. As the bee flies from flower to flower, the pollen grains are transferred onto the female flower. Nectar provides the energy for bee nutrition; pollen provides the protein.
 
Not every gardener can or wants to have beehives, and some are afraid of bees. To avoid being stung, you shouldn’t wear perfume while gardening. The bees may think you are a pretty flower and the chance of being stung may increase. Otherwise, there is really no reason to be afraid of bees in the garden. Honeybees, bumblebees, and other bees are not interested in attacking people. They are only interested in providing for themselves. Never swat at bees because it will get you stung. Remember that without the wind, bees and other pollinators, there would be no wildflowers, no fruit, no vegetables and no blooming trees.
 
We all know honey bees, but mason bees are also worth noting. Mason bee is a common name for solitary bees that build part or all of their nests with mud or plant fiber chewed into paste. Some species construct mud nests on exposed surfaces such as rocks, others build them in soil, hollow plant stems, or preexisting cavities.
 

Photo courtesy of Rafal N.
 
Most mason bees are smaller than honey bees, but some are about the same size or slightly larger. These bees have a stinger but do not attack defensively unless handled. Mason bees are good pollinators for the garden and should be encouraged.   
 
Unfortunately, the population of honey bees is in decline. Here are a few tips to help the pollinators in your yard:
 
- Put a birdbath in your garden. Bees need a place to drink water. So do butterflies and birds.
- Never use pesticides.
- Plant herbs and flowers amongst vegetables and intentionally let some of the herbs bolt.
- Plant flowering trees around the landscape. 

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