Bringing Back the Pollinators

A huge thank you to Garden Fever Nursery and the Xerces Society for hosting a great lecture last Saturday morning. Seats were filled for “Bringing Back the Pollinators,” an informative lecture from Executive Director Scott Hoffman Black.

Black gave an overview of the current threats to pollinators and effective solutions. He talked about the role of native bees, and while their future seems dim, Black spoke of his hope for real change. He has seen tangible, positive results from Xerces’ efforts to renew pollinator health.

I especially loved his story about Sabin Elementary, a school in Portland that responded creatively to the discovery of native bee nests on their ball field. Rather than panic, the school contacted Xerces to learn more about the pollinator they were hosting. It turned out to be a stingless bee in the genus Andrena, and at an estimated 20,000 bees, the nest site was one of the largest Xerces had documented.

Turning the discovery into a learning opportunity, Sabin and Xerces involved students in an effort to preserve the nests and provide forage habitat for these amazing pollinators. The kids even got to hold the bees, which they dubbed “tickle bees” for the way the bees tickled their palms. The result? Sabin Elementary: Home of the Tickle Bees.


I left the lecture feeling newly inspired to take action. Here are a few things I’d like to do, based on Xerces’ four principles for pollinator conservation:

  • Habitat. Build native bee nest boxes as Christmas gifts, along with instructions and a packet of region-specific, pollinator-friendly wildflower seeds. A free document with nest box dimensions is available here, and you can find a list of the right plants for your area here.
  • Plants. Reframe my position on big-box stores where plants are sold, like Home Depot and Fred Meyer. When I learned that many chain stores sell plants that have been pre-treated with chemicals, I thought the best solution was to buy elsewhere. But Black pointed out that in doing so, I’m missing an opportunity for dialogue that might create change. I’ll try asking store managers about the plants they sell, and explain why it’s important to me to know their sources.
  • Pesticides. Finally have a talk with my neighbors’ landlord, who sprays the perimeter of his property (and mine) every year. I’ve been afraid to talk to him about it, but I’d like to find out what he’s using and explain my concerns.
  • Share. Invite friends to sign the pollinator pledge. A quick post is by far the easiest task, but also easy to miss in the promotion of worthy causes this time of year. Every week, I’ll try to send out a few personalized emails.

What about you? How will you take action to bring back the pollinators?



3 thoughts on “Bringing Back the Pollinators

  1. I often wondered what a bumble bee home looked like when watching bees disappear between pebbles and grass. I enjoyed your article and feel inspired to drill some holes in a dead tree sculpture on my property. I like the idea of turning it into a habitat for native pollinators. Thanks for the inspiration! BJ

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