June 19-25 is Pollinator Week, a time to recognize the importance of pollinators within our ecosystems and share ways to support their wellbeing. At MUD, we have been working over the last 3 years to create a welcoming environment for both native pollinators and honey bees around our site. We currently have one hive of honey bees on our property that help support our vegetable gardens and orchard as well as supplying us with several quarts of delicious honey each year. We host several beekeeping workshops throughout the year to inspire and inform new beekeepers on how to incorporate honey bees in their own backyard spaces.
Additionally, we have installed two different versions of a “bee lawn” to support pollinators and also help us manage invasive weeds around our demonstration site. Our first bee lawn is made out of white clover. Clover provides a number of benefits including adding nitrogen to the soil, breaking up compacted soil, being more heat and traffic resistant than grass, and requires less water and mowing than a traditional lawn. While our bee lawn is completely made out of clover you can also incorporate clover in with existing grass to create a greener, healthier lawn. Our second bee lawn was created as a part of the Missoula County Department of Ecology’s flowering lawn program. They are providing seeds and support for community members to implement flowering bee lawns and improve habitat for a variety of pollinators. We seeded our new flowering bee lawn in April and are eagerly watching the new sprouts and seedlings develop and grow. You can learn more about the flowering lawn pollinator habitat improvement program on the Department of Ecology’s website. You can also learn more about the history of bee lawns and their benefits in this great article from the Sierra Club – “Inside the Rise of Bee Lawns.” And if you want to see a bee lawn in action just stop by the MUD site!
In addition to our honey bees and bee lawns we’ve also been expanding our native plant and pollinator gardens to provide forage for pollinators from spring through fall. With the help of local nurseries including Ace the Garden Place, Pink Grizzly, and Caras Nursery we’ve created several beds of pollinator-friendly plants that bloom for over 6 months of the year in order to support pollinators. The MUD site is also a Certified Wildlife Habitat through the National Wildlife Federation which means that our gardens provide wildlife, including pollinators, with food, water, cover, and places to raise young, while also using sustainable practices. We invite you to stop by and explore the MUD demonstration site and see how simple changes in how we care for our yards and gardens can have a positive impact on supporting pollinators all summer long!