Inspired by nature


... a UC resource for vegetation management in Southern California

Wildlife in MY backyard?

    Creating Buzzing Gardens: Increasing Native Plants and Pollinators

Did you know you can have wildlife in your backyard? I’m not talking about wildlife with just 4 legs. Nearly everyone has a yard or patio big enough to attract those busy little girls with 6 legs. And when the girls come out you can be sure the boys will follow. Don’t worry, our native bees are not nearly as aggressive as their European honeybee cousins.

Most of our Southern California landscapes are devoid of native plants and many of the garden plants we use to beautify our yards are not attractive to pollinators. A few simple changes can increase the diversity and abundance of native bees in your backyard. Larger changes can reduce your water bill, beautify your yard and attract many different species of native bees: big and fuzzy, shiny black, metallic green, brown and tan striped, teeny tiny too. If you look close enough you’ll see more diversity then in a text book. 

Native bees are terribly misunderstood. They are much, much less aggressive than European Honeybees, they do not live in colonies, are easy to attract to your yard and what is good for native bees can save you money and save the environment.

Did you know? California is home to over 1,600 species of native bees. This is more than 2 times the number of bees that occur on the entire east coast of the US! Yet most of our backyards do not support robust populations of these ‘friendly’ bees. Do your part and help support wildlife.

Chris McDonald, Natural Resource Advisor with the University of California, Cooperative Extension.

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There are a few simple steps you can take to increasing native bees in your backyard. Contact me if you have any questions.

  1. Meet the needs of pollinators

        Pollinators need food shelter and water just like you do.


            Plant bee friendly plants, especially native plants

                For a list of Bee Friendly Plants visit:

                    Gordon Frankie’s Cal Urban Bee page HERE

            Plant several plants; one plant does not make a garden

                And plant several different kids of plants bees can be picky about what flowers the like to dine upon.

  1.         If you are ambitious you can give the bees a home,

  2.             Make a bee box or bee condo, or leave a patch of loose bare ground for the ladies (male bees don’t make nests). Hives are for European honeybees, not our natives.

  1. Choose sunny spots

        Bees like to bee nice and warm.

  1. Limit use of pesticides

        What can kill the aphids, can also kill the bees

            Learn more about Integrated Pest Management HERE

  1. Bee Patient

        Now that you have plants, flowers, maybe a little bee house, sit back and bee patient, it might take the little girls some time to find your flowers.

  1. Observe

        You can learn a lot just by watching --Yogi Berra

  1. Give the garden a name

        You designed it, created it, and helped improve habitat for our native bees, go ahead and own it. Give it a name that makes you proud.

Bee in a squash flower, without native bees we wouldn’t have pumpkins!

Copyright Chris McDonald

Copyright Chris McDonald

Copyright Chris McDonald

Copyright Chris McDonald

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