Creating Pollinator Habitats

The best way to support pollinator communities is by providing habitat. Premium habitat consists of food and nesting sites. Some best practices in New York, according to the Empire State Native Pollinator Survey, include:

  • Reduce pesticides and herbicide use as these chemicals threaten nontarget species like pollinators. For more information on the effects of neonicotinoid insecticides, see our 2020 Neonicotinoid Report.
  • Control invasive plants and maintain native species. Invasive plants outcompete and displace the native species that have co-evolved with New York’s native pollinators over thousands of years. When selecting native plants, choose species that bloom throughout the year to give pollinators continuous food sources.
  • Consider pollinators when mowing. Reducing mowing frequency, staggering areas cut, and cutting at the tallest setting helps preserve floral resources and protect habitat for ground-nesting pollinators.
  • Leave coarse woody materials on your property for habitat. Many pollinating species including flies, beetles, and cavity-nesting bees require soft dead wood to reproduce. Dead trees, downed logs, and brush piles provide excellent shelter for pollinators and other animals.
  • Minimize outdoor lighting. Artificial lights disrupt the foraging and travel behaviors of nocturnal species like native moths. If outdoor light is necessary, consider using motion sensors or lighting that emits low levels of ultraviolet light like sodium light bulbs.

Learn more about how you can attract a variety of pollinators by exploring these resources from Cornell and other organizations below.

Cornell Publications

A bumble bee visiting the native milkweed, Asclepias tuberosa, or butterflyweed.

Provides a brief overview of what it takes to make your yard more hospitable to bees. Produced by CCE Putnam County.

A long horned bee pollinates purple ironweed flowers

An in-depth guide covering planning, installing, and managing pollinator gardens in backyards. This handbook also describes the ecology of wild bees in New York and the Northeast.

A stand of purple asters in the woods

Pollinators live in all kinds of habitats -- not just in our backyards, but in the woods, too! This guide provides specific advice to provide pollinator habitat in woodlands.