Updated: Apr 22, 2021
By Holly Kocet
We all want to help our threatened insect pollinators by planting pollinator gardens. But are we making the best possible plant choices?
Bee “specialists” require pollen from a specific genus or family of plants.
Researchers have discovered that while many bees collect nectar from a variety of plants, it is a different story when it comes to pollen. Bee “specialists” require pollen from a specific genus or family of plants. Often referred to as ‘host’ plant specialization, it is a trait also shared by butterfly caterpillars. No host plant, no pollinator. These specialist bees emerge from their nests the same time their host plant begins to flower; a mutual benefit since flowers often depend on the pollination of a specific bee species.
Providing plants for specialist bees will also benefit generalist pollinators like our endearing bumble bee whose very survival depends on availability of floral resources, spring through fall.