Food / Shelter / Water
Just like us, insects need food, shelter, and water. Trees, shrubs, bunch grasses and a variety of plants can provide habitat. It all depends on the insect you are interested in. It is always a good idea to provide a variety of habitat types and encourage a diverse group to use your pollinator area. Nectar and pollen plants are another key component. We need to incorporate a variety of blooming times for these beneficial insects to utilize most of the year. Non-native invasives do not have the same evolutionary history with insects and we should discourage their use. It is also good to remember that water is a key component of life - Be it a pond, a birdbath, a creek, or whatever you can incorporate. Standing water is difficult to manage however and will attract unwanted critters such as mosquitos and bullfrogs.
If you want to get into complexities, it is good to consider the variation in pollinating - active periods, physical structure of plants, color attraction, scent attraction, nutritional needs, host plants, pollen sources, time of day flowers are open, flower shape, flower arrangement, and more.
Think of it as incorporating blooming time, different flower colors, and different size plants as to increase your pollinator friends. I have provided an example of a table that shows some of these characteristics for the northern portion of Humboldt County, California in a PDF above.
Different pollinators have different needs. Are you looking to attract all of the pollinators? Just butterflies? Moths? Native bees? Honey bees? If you are interested in native bees, I have also included an interesting resource in a PDF above. Depending on the species, you will need to incorporate specialized flowers or resources into your garden.
Some other things to remember include:
Early season and fall blooming species are critical for overwintering bees.
Retain woody debris and dead branches as nesting material for cavity-nesting bees.
Native trees are better at providing caterpillars for birds.
Spring blooming willows provide an excellent early source of pollen.
Be careful about mowing - Do so when pollinators are not in pupal stages. Leave around 12 - 18 inches in the pollinator area. Maybe just try not to mow.
If you are in a landscape that prescribed burning is practical - that can be a great way to manage the landscape for plants and wildlife. Make sure to follow procedures and regulations though.
Some small scale pollinator restoration projects can include easement right of ways, utility right of ways, solar farms, fence lines, and of course on any restoration project in general - we should always be thinking of these functions and integral roles.
Forms of pollinator friendly habitat also include Temporary Insectary Strips in Agricultural settings, Hedgerows, Windbreaks, Conservation Cover Crops in Agricultural settings, Herbaceous Buffer Practices, Tunnel Nests, Beetle Banks, Brush Banks, Brush, Log, and Stone Piles.
If you are interested in establishing a pollinator garden or one of the more complex features associated with pollinator habitat you can always contact us to help out.