Helping Native Bees and Other Pollinators Thrive in New Mexico
Gardeners, growers, land managers, school groundskeepers and others in New Mexico now have a way to help honeybees and native wild bees thrive, thanks in part to a Western IPM Center-funded project led by Urban and Small Farm IPM Specialist Tessa Grasswitz at New Mexico State University.
During the demonstration and outreach project, Grasswitz’s team, working with the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Plant Materials Center for New Mexico, tested more than 100 species of plants – mostly native – for their ability to attract and provide habitat for pollinators and other beneficial insects. Using test plots in four geographically distinct sites throughout the state, the team planted hedgerows of native flowering trees and shrubs as “shelterbelts” at the edge of each site, then planted a variety of flowering perennials, biennials and annuals as well as native grasses to provide habitat for ground-dwelling beneficial insects to see which were the most attractive to bees and other beneficial species.
Workshops were then held at each site to educate members of the public, and the team produced two pocket-sized guides for growers, landscapers and home gardeners. One is titled “Pollinator Plants for New Mexico” and lists the scientific and common names for plants that attract bees, as well as noting whether the plant is commercially available, how easily it self-seeds or can be propagated in a greenhouse, and any other notes of importance. The other publication is the “Guide to Native Bees of New Mexico.”
In addition, the team produced a full-color poster that includes pictures and names of good plants for pollinators, broken down into spring-flowering shrubs, summer-flowering annuals, summer-flowering perennials, and autumn-flowering species.