Even the smallest green space can provide food and safe haven for pollinators. Whether you’re gardening in a window box, garden bed, or across wide acres of land, taking the following steps will help improve the habitat for bees.

  1. Feed the Bees

Choose nectar- and pollen-rich flowers with a range of shapes, sizes, colors, and bloom times. Seek out locally native plants as often as possible, as they have evolved regionally and are well adapted to the climate, soil, light, and water conditions in that area. Many native bee species have coevolved to feed exclusively on native flowers and need them to survive.

  1. Skip the Mulch

70% of the world’s bees — including bumblebees — live underground and need bare, mulch-free, well-drained, protected soil in a sunny area to create and access their nests. If mulching materials, and keep mulch layers thin — no more than half an inch.

  1. Leave Stems Behind

Don’t cut stems to the ground after blooms expire. Instead, strategically trim them so that cavity-nesting bees can move in and lay eggs. Leave spent flowers up through the fall and winter so migrating birds can feed on seeds. Then, in spring, trim stems at heights ranging from 8 to 24 inches high to provide homes for species such as mason bees.

  1. Say No to Pesticides

The best way to avoid pest issues is to have healthy, resilient plants, which is why we recommend planting native species, which are best suited to thrive in the sun, water, and soil of a local ecosystem. If you must use a pesticide, choose a targeted organic product, and always avoid applying pesticides when flowers are blooming.