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What’s the BUZZ? A New Report on Colorado Pollinators was Published and You Can Help Support their Habitat!

By Lisa Mason, CSU Extension Horticulture Specialist

Colorado Pollinator Study Graphic. Photo by Faith Williams Dyrsten

The Colorado legislature passed Senate Bill 22-199 which provided funding to the Colorado Department of Natural Resources to conduct an assessment on the health of pollinators in Colorado. Deryn Davidson, Sustainable Landscape Statewide Specialist at CSU Extension spearheaded the project in partnership with the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, and the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History. Supporting partners also included state and federal agencies, researchers, scientists and land managers in Colorado.

The report was published in January 2024. The following are top priorities for pollinator conservation:

  1. Protect imperiled native pollinating insects.
  2. Protect, restore and connect pollinator habitats.
  3. Mitigate environmental changes that negatively impact pollinators and their habitats.
  4. Reduce the risks from pesticides to pollinating insects.
  5. Monitor and support native and managed pollinator health.

This report will provide a baseline for future research and conservation efforts.

What does this mean for homeowners and people living in Colorado? The silver lining to pollinator conservation is that everyone can be part of the solution. Consider some of the following actions to support pollinators in your neighborhood, school, city or town:

Add pollinator-friendly plants to the landscape

  • Plant a diversity of flowering plants that bloom all season long from early spring to late fall.
  • Choose flowers that have the plant reproductive parts producing pollen and nectar rather than horticulture varieties called double flowers that offer no resources for beneficial insects.
  • Consider adding native grasses that can provide overwintering habitat for ground-nesting bees and caterpillar host plants for satyr butterflies.
  • Add caterpillar host plants that attract butterflies and moths.

Provide habitat spaces

  • Leave bare soil areas in the landscape for ground-nesting bees.
  • Follow best practices and add an insect hotel to the garden that attracts solitary-nesting bees.
  • Add a shallow water feature such as a dish with river rocks that provide landing spaces for insects to drink water.
  • Consider leaving leaf debris in gardens for overwintering bumble bees and other arthropods. Move leaf debris off turf grass.
  • Take inventory of turf areas that don’t serve a purpose and add some low-water perennial plants.
  • Add layers to your landscape that vary from ground-level perennials, medium-sized shrubs, to large trees.

Consider the role of honey bees

  • Consider goals for your own landscape. If conservation is top priority, plant flowers and add habitat spaces for wild pollinators rather than keeping honey bees.
  • Support your local beekeeper by purchasing honey and wax. Honey bees are an important economic crop pollinator.

Learn and share educational information

  • Share pollinator-friendly practices with your neighborhoods and HOAs.
  • Advocate to your HOA to replace unused turf areas with low-water, pollinator-friendly landscapes.
  • Educate yourself and others about the often-misplaced fear around bees and wasps. For instance, over 90% of all stings are from the western yellowjacket, a scavenging insect that doesn’t forage on flowers for nectar.
  • Count bees and submit data through the Native Bee Watch Community Science Program.

Learn more about pollinators at the CSU Extension website and contact your local county office with questions.

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