Pollinators Week

Pollinators Week

Image above taken by David Clode

Australian Pollinators Week 13 -21 November 2021

What is Pollinators week?It is to increase the awareness of the importance of bees and other pollinating insects in our environment especially during our spring.  It is a designated week when community, business and organisations can come together to raise awareness of the importance of pollinators and support their needs. Through group activities community members can learn together and increase their awareness and act on their increased knowledge. 

This is the seventh year this event has been celebrated in Australia and it has been recognised by the Australian Government Department of the Environment. This event has been celebrated in the Northern Hemisphere since June 2007, their spring. It is really important here in Australia we recognise what the issue is and what we can do to improve the environment for pollinators.   By having this event people’s awareness will be increased and they will gain knowledge about how to create pollinator friendly environments.  It’s a great way to engage communities in fun and educational activities, to learn about why our insect pollinators are so important in our ecosystem. Without pollinators the food quality and yield would be very low and the costs would be much higher than now. They also drive biodiversity, enabling plants to reproduce and support the food web within the environment.

Why is Pollinators Week Important?
Pollinator numbers are under threat across the world.  This is because of a number of reasons
–           With the spread of urbanisation in our cities their natural habitat is being removed and it’s being replaced by “flowerless landscape” such as concrete roads and grass or gardens planted out with only one or two species of plants.

–           Agricultural practices sometimes form a monoculture.  This means one crop will be planted out annually in areas where there would have been numerous floral resources.

–           The use of pesticides has increased which will kill beneficial insects as well as pests.  

Hopefully by making people aware of these facts they will do their part in trying to improve conditions for Pollinators

What is Pollination?
When plants are in flower they rely on pollinators such as bees and other insects to transfer the male sex cells (pollen) to the female reproductive parts of flowers.  This is not just your common garden variety flowers that you pick for an indoor vase display this is all plants including crops. This process is called pollination, which then leads to fertilisation. If this process is successful the plants will develop seeds and fruit. Over 75% of the world’s flowering plants rely on insect pollinators to reproduce.

Image taken by Laura Ockel

What can you do to help increase the number of pollinators?
Plant a variety of flowering plants
Starting in your own gardens first – Plant lots of flowering plants that are rich in nectar and pollen. Plant different species, so as to provide food resources all year round.


Give them a Food Source and Water
You don’t even need to have a back yard to do this it is possible to plant out plants in pots or planter boxes that are on your deck or a veranda or even a roof top area. The most important thing is to just make a start by planting out some plants. By planting out pollinator – attracting plants you will provide food to fuel the insects. Also by having a small shallow body of clean water in the garden which they can access – they will use this in different ways.

You should also ensure that they have places to nest and rear offspring this is best done by conserving their natural habitats in the first place however in your own garden you can provide them with further habitat by building bee hotels or nesting blocks. 

Chemical Free Zone
Also most importantly you should cease or reduce the pesticides that you use.

Who are the Pollinators?

It’s not just bees that carry out the task of pollination. There are thousands of animals that also carry out this task as they drink nectar from the flowers. These insects include animals such as moths, beetles, butterflies, wasps, ants, moths and even the pesky flies and also animals such as bats, birds and small marsupials.  These pollinators will be after the nectar of the flower to feed themselves and their young they then as a by-product of this action also brush paste the pollen within the flower and collect this as they move from flower to flower allowing pollination to happen as they transfer pollen grains between other flowers.

Bees are just very good at pollination because they not only eat the nectar but they collect the pollen as well so they get out amongst more flowers more often ….as per the saying “Busy as A Bee”.

What should I plant in my garden to attract pollinators?
Planting out patches of a variety of flowers in your green space is the best way to get started. If you have the space grouping flowering plants together in at least a 1 metre x 1 metre area is most ideal to attract pollinators.  If you don’t have garden beds and are using pots try to group your pots close together pollinators like humans prefer to have variety in their diet and so the more diverse range of plants you plant out the better for attracting a diverse range of pollinator species. Also make sure that the flowering times happen at different periods of the year. If you can provide a consistent food supply throughout the year the number of pollinators in your garden will continue to grow.

Bees in particular tend to be attracted to blue and purple flowering plants.

Native plants such as Tea Trees, Grevillea, Banksia, Wattles, Bottle Brush, Coastal Rosemary, Lilly Pilly, Hakea, Gum trees, Hardenbergia, Prosanthera,

Exotic plants such as Dahlias, Roses, Buddleia, Marigold, Hebe, Lavenders, Salvias, Daisies, Diosma,

Herbs – Rosemary, Basil, Thyme, Mint, Sage, Parsley, Coriander

Vegetables – Tomato, Cucumber, Zucchini, Pumpkin, Eggplant, Cucumber, Peas, Beans

Also flowering trees, fruit trees and nut trees

The next step in maintaining your pollinator garden is to ensure that all your plants are healthy and do flower well. You will need to ensure the plants receive sufficient water and nutrients to grow, thrive and survive.  If you are using any fertilisers try to use organic chemical free fertilisers and ideally do not use pesticides in your garden or if you do have to use a pesticide educate yourself on what natural remedies could be used or use organic products that only target the pest.

How can I provide Habitat or Shelter in my garden for Pollinators?
If you leave some small sections (1 m x 1m )  of your garden beds un mulched this will allow ground nesting bees  to get easy access to the open soil where they will burrow and create their own shelter, having a layer of mulch in place will prevent this from happening. Rather than cleaning up all fallen branches, logs and piles rocks leave some in place where cavities can form and provide shelter for pollinators. 

Pollinators Nests
You can also make pollinator nests by bundling up  hollow stems of wood together, cut them to 2 metres in length and then wire them together.  These could then be hung in a tree or on a fence.

Bee Hotels or Bee B&B’s

You will need to construct a five sided box out of a natural timber. It only needs to be 15 cm deep.  Then you can fill the box with a selection of different diameter garden canes or bamboo which are hollow and cut to 15cm lengths.  You can also add pieces of timber with various sized holes drilled into it. Make sure you vary the width of the canes and holes so that you attract different species of bees.

 Pollinator Week Activities  Ideas

–           Creating a pollinator habitat garden

–           Making insect hotels

–           Creating environmental art pieces to educate about pollinators

–           Conduct children’s educational activities – Check out colouring pictures and crosswords for kids here www. beesbusiness.com.au/pollweekmain.html#Children

–           Conduct  “catch a bug” sessions to help identify and better understand insects

–           Conduct a “Wild Pollinator count” – www.wildpollinatorcount.com

If you would like to get to know more about Pollinators here are some helpful links





Glenice Buck