Attracting Native Pollinators


“Handle a book as a bee does a flower, extract its sweetness but do not damage it.”  ~John Muir


One of the  joys of gardening is noticing and appreciating those critters that visit the garden.  Observing and capturing critters in images is a wonderful past time that I find joyful and peaceful.

But the greatest joy for me was when I realized the that the critters who visited were not a nuisance eating my plants or annoying, buzzing and IMG_2978biting.  Instead as I read and learned, I found that the critters who came brought benefits to my garden, and chief among these beneficial critters were the pollinators.

Much has been written recently about the plight of the monarchs and the bees especially showing us how chemicals and loss of habitat have greatly affected them.  The decline of pollinators speaks to the health of our environment.  And without pollinators we can kiss most of our flowers and food supply goodbye.

So I thought it would be good to find out more about how to help our pollinators.  I bought this book to give me more information about our pollinators, and I thought it would make a great book to review.  The book is written by the folks at the Xerces Society:

The Xerces Society is a nonprofit organization that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat. For forty years, the Society has been at the forefront of invertebrate protection worldwide, harnessing the knowledge of scientists and the enthusiasm of citizens to implement conservation programs.

 If you don’t know much about these folks, they are worth exploring.  Their website acts as a resource providing links to recent research and information to help you better understand what is going on with pollinators and other invertebrates.

 I am joining in with Holley’s Garden Book Review which usually happens on the 20th.


Attracting Native Pollinators: The Xerces Society Guide, Protecting North America’s Bees and Butterflies



Author:  The Xerces Society 
Paperback:   384 pages
Publisher:   Storey Publishing, LLC (February 26, 2011)
Amazon Price: $19.96






In A Few Words

This book is a comprehensive guide to help anyone who wants to protect the native pollinators of North America.  It is broken into four parts:  Pollinators and Pollination, Taking Action, Bees of North America and Creating a Pollinator-Friendly Landscape.IMG_9880

The color illustrations provide additional information to the many interesting side notes throughout Part 1, and help to give the reader the reasons why we should care about pollinators, who they are and the many threats that plague them.

In Part 2 you are given strategies that will help pollinators; in particular the Four Steps to Success:  recognizing existing pollinator habitat, protecting that habitat, providing new habitat and managing the land.

The full-color photographs of the most abundant and important native bees are the highlight of Part 3.  You will also learn how bees are named.  Each bee has its own page filled with info regarding foraging, nests, identification and conservation concerns.

IMG_8284The last section is a gardeners delight with sample gardens for backyards, rooftops, school yards, parks and community gardens.  There is a regional plant list and a section on wildflowers that act as pollen and nectar plants for pollinators.  And there is even a section on great non-native plants to use for pollinators.  Also in Part 4 you will find a section on butterflies and what are the best host/nectar plants to include in your garden to attract specific butterflies.



What I Liked

I really liked the thoroughness of the book.  Each section was well laid out, made for DSCN2337interesting reading and was easy to follow and digest.  The information provided will help anyone trying to grow flowers, fruit, veggies or anyone who just wants to help the planet and pollinators anywhere in North America.

As they say in the Foreword:

This book is much more than a resource on how to improve habitat for native pollinators.  It is a step-by-step guide for changing our stewardship of the earth; it is a tangible way for people of all ages to make a difference.


IMG_7392There are so many other things to like about this book.  But I think the best part was that while they strongly encourage using local native plants for your region,  they also show the benefits of some non-natives and “weeds”.  And they encourage you to plant with care as there are better non-native choices especially for tough places like roadsides, farm cover crops and island areas in parking lots.

The section on creating a better habitat for pollinators is interesting.  There are many DIY nesting structures, educational activities and loads of resources.  There is even a section for farmers and pollinator conservation; green spaces like parks and golf courses and natural areas.




Not So Much

This book is a fabulous guide to everything you could want and should want to know about pollinators.  That being said, it is a lot of info to digest so it is best to read it in sections.   Also the bees, butterflies and other pollinators are indigenous to North America so those gardeners in other parts of the world may not find this guide as useful.  Although the basic info and garden/plant sections, I think, are useful for anyone.




Final Thoughts

If you have been looking for one reference to help you provide habitats for bees, butterflies and other pollinators then this is that book.  Whether, you IMG_9107want to increase your crop/food production, have a great flower garden or wildlife habitat you will learn all the basics for success with this book.

If this book does nothing else, it will provide you with the essential information about why we need pollinators and what we all must do to make sure the threats they are facing are reduced and soon.  We cannot live without these beautiful creatures.  And I strongly urge people to read this book, pass it along and make sure they share it with their children, their neighbors, their schools, businesses and local governments.





“To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee,
And revery.
The revery alone will do,
If bees are few.”
― Emily Dickinson



I am really behind reading blog posts.  I have about 250 posts to read, and I promise I will be catching up this week.  Thanks for your patience if I haven’t been around in a while.


Next up on the blog:  Monday will bring another Wildflower Tale.  November is right around the corner.  Fall is whizzing by in my garden.

I wrote a guest post over at Vision and Verb.  I hope you will visit this wonderful website of women writers.

I am linking in with Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Wednesday.

I hope you will join me for my posts once a month at Beautiful Wildlife Garden. See my latest post on the now.

As always, I’ll be joining Tootsie Time’s Fertilizer Friday.

Please remember, to comment click on the title of the post and the page will reload with the comments section.

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2013.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.

52 Replies to “Attracting Native Pollinators”

  1. I try to do my part by providing host and nectar plants for bees and butterflies but I’m sure there is much more to know. I’ll add this book to my wish list, good review Donna.

  2. Sounds like a great book, Donna. I think more and more people are interested in helping out the bees, and this book would probably make a great present even to people that are not dedicated gardeners. I always feel that the more pollinators I attract to my garden, the better. I have no idea how bees are named, and I also would like to be able to identify the different bees and pollinators that visit my garden. The fact that they look at all plants for pollinators – native and non-native – is interesting and something I appreciate. This book is going on my list. Thanks so much for joining in!

    1. Thanks or hosting Holley. Your point that this is a great book for all is certainly very true. And I was glad to see non-natives that are good choices. Not all non-natives are good to use for pollinators, but it was great to hear the best ones for the garden as so many gardens have natives and non-natives mixed.

  3. Sounds like a fantastic book! I have added it to my wish list. In the past, I’ve written a couple of posts on bees, but could really use a go-to reference book that covers the other pollinators too. It is such a life-important issue! Great post!

  4. I agree, Donna. This is an excellent in-depth guide to creating welcoming habitat for our native pollinators in your wildlife garden. It’s one of those “must read” books that should be read by every homeowner because each of us has a very critical role to play in providing habitat for native bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.

    1. A great book to give to neighbors, Carole, especially those who have kids who are interested in pollinators. I find if the kids find it important and interesting, they will work on their parents to stop chemicals and plant pollinator important plants.

    1. Me too Jason. One of the leading groups for pollinator info, and an important group for gardeners to become involved with.

  5. I have never seen anything like this for our part of the world, but will have to hunt for a guide – it would be great to do more for the pollinators wherever possible. Thanks for the inspiration Donna! 🙂

    1. Oh thank you Cathy. It would be so wonderful if there were worldwide guides to help pollinators all over the world. The book does show so many great flowers that people grow in other parts of the world that help pollinators. Let me know if you do find a similar book. I wonder if the Xerces folks have any resources on their website that might help you find something for your area.

  6. I think I will add this book to my list. I like the fact that it covers native pollinators and non-native plants that are actually beneficial as sources for our pollinators.

  7. Your post about the pollinators and your initial John Muir quote remind me of the famous quote of Muir’s: “If you pull on anything in nature, you find it attached to the rest of the world.” I don’t have it precisely, but the concept is something I think about every day.

    1. I couldn’t agree more Susie. I try to remember that too and know that what I do has a profound positive or negative effect on the delicate balance of the earth.

  8. Your blog posts are always a wealth of information. Thank you for doing the research for us, this book does look like a valuable resource.

    I’ve been watching the pollinators in my garden, keeping mental track of which flowers they love, and making sure to increase those. It’s well worth the effort.


    1. You are welcome and I agree Jen. Your method for observing pollinators and flowers is a great one. I am taking more notes and keeping it all in a form I am creating so I can get a better idea of what plants I have and what critters prefer them.

      It is so worth the effort!! 🙂

  9. I put out a native Mason bee house this spring and they moved right in. I have tubes full of cocoons in my basement fridge right now. 🙂 It was just such an easy thing to do. I also keep my organic garden full of pollinator friendly plants. But it’s always great to read books that give more info about sustaining pollinators and other wildlife. There’s always more learning to do. 🙂

    1. How fascinating about the cocoons. I have to find just the right spot for the mason bees but I think they have made a few houses in some old stumps.

      Glad you enjoyed the review.

  10. I like your suggestion to give the book to neighbors. We live across the street from a family with three little children who are interested in butterflies. I shared my ‘butterfly weed’ plants with them, and I think the family would enjoy this book. They draw pictures of butterflies for me to put on my refrigerator!

  11. I always love documenting insects in gardens, or whatever alive comes to my plants. We still have lots of them, as insecticide use is not common in our parts. I love that yellow butterfly.

    1. So nice to hear that somewhere there is still a place that does not try to kill every bug. Whenever I think of insects, I think of you and all your wonderful posts.

      The yellow butterfly is a Clouded Sulfur. Small but pretty.

  12. Next year my goal is to plant more flowers that attract bees and butterflies. I have been hearing about their numbers declining and it’s very sad. Thanks for all the info!

    1. Wonderful to hear Gail….planting the flowers that will help the pollinators is so important. They will thank you for it!! 🙂

  13. As always a great review. This is something we can all do something about, by having flowering plants (the right kind) for as much of the year as possible, especially in spring and autumn when there may be less blooms for the bees to visit.

    1. Absolutely Christina. That’s why I try to make sure I get early spring to late fall blooms until the frost and freeze kills them off.

  14. Hi Donna,

    It’d be interesting to know if there’s a similar book for the UK. There are plenty of books on attracting wildlife here, but I’ve never specifically seen one for attracting native pollinators. My basic plan is if the Bees/hoverflies seem to like the flower then it’s a tick in my book and it can stay. Anything not attractive may stay if I love it but I think usually it’ll eventually go because my love for a plant is often heightened by the fact the insects love it!
    That being said though, it goes without saying that really everyone needs a good range of blooms across the seasons, especially in winter when there’s little else around and an unusually warm day/year can sometimes bring them out of hibernation early.

    1. I agree Liz. If I had the weather for winter blooms, I would have them and love it! Let me know if you find a similar book in the UK.

  15. Hi Donna, I’m with you. It’s such a delight to see the bee and the (sadly only occasional) butterfly flit from flower to flower enjoying the nectar. I am always watching to see which flowers they prefer. I should read this book someday. I’m sure there is room for improvement.

    Thank you for sharing.

    1. I think you would really enjoy the book Grace. But you are already ahead as you watch to see which flowers they prefer.

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