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August 28, 2017

How pollinator friendly is your yard?

honeybee on dandelion flower
ST. PAUL, Minn. (8/28/2017) – Just how does your yard and garden measure up when it comes to attracting bees, butterflies and other pollinators?

University of Minnesota Extension has launched the first university-based online tool for residents to help them assess how bee-friendly they are in their own backyard.

“It only takes a few minutes to see if you are doing the right things,” Extension educator Julie Weisenhorn said. “If you’ve planted a few bee-friendly plants in your yard, that’s a great start. But there’s a lot more you can do to create a haven for all pollinators.”

How it works

The online survey asks participants questions, including:

  • how observant they are about what kind of bees and other pollinators their yard attracts;
  • whether their yard has something blooming throughout the growing season (April-October); and
  • whether they’ve purposely left cut-off flower stems or exposed soil in their gardens as ground nesting areas for bees and more. 
Scores rate the participant’s pollinator know-how: low scores make them a “Wanna-bee Pollinator Gardener,” mid-range scores make them a “Bee Benefactor” and the highest scores earn them the title “Pollinator Protector.” Once a homeowner receives a score, they are directed to online information to help them create a healthier yard and garden for pollinators.

The online survey was easy to do and “a little eye-opening for me," said Deb Valley of Shoreview, who helped test it.

“I'm doing okay when it comes to encouraging pollinators, but I learned I should be better, said Valley, who grows ornamental grasses and some flowers. Two or three years ago, she admits she got rid of ground-nesting bees in her yard with spray pesticides. "Now I leave them alone," she said. "I'm much more concerned than I was a year ago or so," about pollinators.

Why it matters

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than one-third of plants and plant products that Americans eat are dependent on insects for pollination. Healthy landscapes are key to the success of pollinators who live in our yards and gardens, Weisenhorn said.

“From the home gardener to the farmers and managers of our parks and open spaces, we all must strive to create landscapes that provide for pollinators flowering plants for food, and safe, pesticide-free habitat,” she said.

The pollinator survey is available at z.umn.edu/flowers4pollinators. Also, visit Extension's Garden website for more information about flowers for pollinators.

Related blog by Julie Weisenhorn: Flowers for pollinators
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Allison Sandve; University of Minnesota media relations manager, ajsandve@umn.edu, 612, 626-4077 or 651-492-0811 (cell); Julie Weisenhorn, University of Minnesota Extension educator, weise019@umn.edu, 952-239-6608



For more news from U of M Extension, visit www.extension.umn.edu/news or contact Extension Communications at extnews@umn.edu. University of Minnesota Extension is an equal opportunity educator and employer.



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