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Illustration by Andrew Holder

Identifying Habitat Opportunities

Habitat can be integrated into landscapes in a variety of ways and can incorporate permanent and temporary resources. Using the landscape above as an example we’ve outlined areas where habitat can be added or managed to support pollinators. While we are using a rural agricultural landscape in this example, many of these features exist in other landscapes in some form another.

Hedgerows or Windbreaks

To create pollinator hedgerows, use a wide variety of plants the benefit bees and have overlapping flowering periods. This will provide food and nesting resources for bees throughout the growing season and strengthen populations of natural enemies of crop pests.

Riparian Buffers

Habitat along streams should contain a diversity of plants. Willows, in particular, will nourish bumble bee queens in the spring so that large numbers of workers are available when crops begin to bloom.

Natural or Undeveloped Areas

Nearby natural areas may harbor all the native bees needed to pollinate your farm’s crops. Consider inviting your neighbors to help with safeguarding these habitats.

Artificial Nests

Making bee blocks for wood-nesting bees is a good way to increase the number of native bees in your landscape.

Dead Trees, Snags

Keeping dead trees standing provides shelter for native bees. Some solitary bees build nests in abandoned beetle tunnels in snags.

Field and Road Borders

Leave areas next to fields untilled and unsprayed to support flowering plants and provide nest sites for ground-nesting bees.

Cover Crops

Flowering plants—certain legumes in particular—can be included in covercrop mixes to supply pollen and nectar.

Temporary Bee Pasture

Planting fields with canola or other inexpensive seed—or allowing crops such as lettuce, kale, basil, and broccoli to bolt—will supply bees with nectar and pollen.

Bare Soil

When you create a pond or ditch, leave the pile of excavated soil. Ground-nesting bees may build nests in stable, bare areas of this mounded earth. Planting clumps of native flowers will attract more pollinators.


A vegetable, flower, or herb garden, with a diverse assortment of plants, is a good source of food for pollinators. Be wary of fancy hybrids that may produce little pollen or nectar.

Fallow Fields

Even small areas of fallow or unproductive land, especially when sown with native flowers, can offer important resources for native bees.