How You Can Help Pollinators

Pollinators are in trouble, and they need your help. Whether you have several acres or a few pots on your patio, there are four ways you can help pollinators in your own yard, garden, and neighborhood:

  1. Give them healthy food
  2. Give them shelter
  3. Protect them from pesticides
  4. Spread the word

  1. Healthy Food
  2. Shelter
  3. Protect From Pesticides
  4. Spread the Word

Give them Healthy Food

Just like us, pollinators need healthy food to live. Many pollinators rely on flower nectar for energy, and flower pollen for protein and other nutrients. By growing pollinator-friendly plants, you can help pollinators survive.

Grow pollinator-healthy plants

A pollinator garden is like a conventional flower garden, but filled with plants that provide healthy nutrition for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. Many non-native ornamental plants are pretty to look at, but they either don’t have nutritious nectar, or they have flowers that pollinators can’t get into. It’s kind of like putting fake fruit on a banquet table.

Before you start or add to your garden, refer to pollinator-friendly plant lists created for our region. You’ll find there are many native and non-native plants to choose from.

Focus on native plants

The pollinators in our area evolved along with the native plants, so they’ve been eating from the same plants for a very long time. Some pollinators, like the Monarch butterfly, have become so specialized that they rely on a very small number of plant species for food or nesting. By planting flowers that are native to the Coon Rapids area, you’re more likely to give native pollinators the food they’re looking for.

See the links in the section above for lists of native plants for pollinators.

Plant for diversity

Bees, butterflies, and other pollinators come in many shapes and sizes. There are thousands of pollinator species in Minnesota, including over 400 species of native bees. Many pollinators specialize in the types of flowers they eat from. For example, bees can only eat from flowers that match the size of their bodies and length of their tongues. Short-tongued bees need shallow flowers, while long-tongued bees feed on deep bell-shaped flowers. Tiny bees need open flowers, while big bumblebees can muscle their way into closed blossoms. And the Monarch butterfly lays its eggs exclusively on milkweed. Of course you can’t feed every pollinator with one garden, but by planting a variety of flowers with different shapes, sizes, and bloom times, you can help a more diverse group of pollinator species.

Consider trees and shrubs

We most often think of flower gardens when we think of pollinators, but flowering trees and shrubs are just as valuable in providing nectar and pollen. Many trees, like crabapple and red maple, and shrubs, like red twig dogwood and serviceberry, provide blossoms in early spring, before many flowering plants have emerged from the ground.

See the University of Minnesota’s list of Trees and Shrubs for Pollinators.

Get plants only from trusted sources

There are many garden centers and online nurseries that sell plants that attract pollinators. Before you buy plants from a garden center or online shop, make sure their plants are free of pesticides that could harm bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.

For more information on buying pollinator-safe plants, see:

What the City of Coon Rapids is doing for pollinators

To find out what the City of Coon Rapids is doing to protect pollinators, and how city ordinances apply to pollinator plantings, read Protecting Pollinators in Coon Rapids.

Additional Resources