Bee on purple flower
Jodi Towne

You’re helping pollinators at our conservation areas

Increasing native plant diversity helps pollinators thrive

When Serena Soldani went out to clean off her car this spring, something clicked. “Normally, I would mutter to myself about all the pollen on my car,” she said, “but this spring, given how stressed pollinators are, I decided to be happy about it.”

Serena is on to something. Nationally, we are witnessing a crash of pollinators. A 2022 comprehensive survey in New York found that more than 60% of the insect populations studied ranked as insecure, with 25% at risk and 15% not seen in New York since 2000. Declines are due to habitat loss, pesticide use, and extreme weather caused by climate change.

You may be aware of this, given increasing concern about honeybees in the news, but all pollinators are feeling the stress. According to Cornell University’s Pollinator Network, New York is thought to have approximately 450 wild bee species. Wild bees are often solitary and live in burrows excavated into the ground, in wood, or pithy plant stems.

Click the photos to learn more about each of these pollinators.

Bees need a diverse diet

Trees and flowering plants offer different levels of proteins and vitamins that pollinators eat and use to feed their young, and a broad mix of sources keeps them healthy. That’s one of the many reasons that conserving and managing woodlands, along with a mix of meadow areas, provides important habitats for pollinators like bees, moths, flies, butterflies and birds.

Conservation areas like the Joseph A. Blake Wildlife Sanctuary in the town of Rutland, as well as newer conservation areas like the David Smith Conservation Area in the town of LeRay, and Keller Mohawk Hill in West Turin, are serving as critical havens for both people and pollinators alike.

As extreme weather increases, connecting areas of conserved land—including a mosaic of fields, meadows, stream corridors, and woodlands—will give wildlife of all kinds a better chance to thrive over time. Not only is our agricultural landscape dependent on healthy pollinators, but the woodland plants you love, including many of the iconic trees in our forests, depend upon them for survival.


What you can do

In addition to supporting greater land conservation and habitat, each of us can also play a role by enhancing the pollinator habitat around our communities. Recommendations from Cornell include:

  • Include native plants in your garden or landscape that support birds and wildlife throughout the year.
  • Reduce pesticides and herbicides as they threaten non-target species like pollinators.
  • Control invasive plants and maintain native species. Invasive plants outcompete and displace the natives that have co-evolved with our native pollinators over thousands of years. Selecting species that bloom throughout the year gives pollinators continuous food sources.
  • Consider pollinators when mowing. Reducing mowing frequency, staggering areas cut, and cutting at the tallest setting helps preserve floral resources and protect habitat for ground-nesting pollinators.
  • Leave coarse woody materials on your property for habitat. Dead trees, downed logs, and brush piles provide excellent shelter for pollinators and other animals.