Colette Kenny recently joined WPC’s Bumble Bee Watch Community Science Program as a volunteer. She is writing today as a guest blogger about her efforts to support native pollinators on her half-acre homestead, located northeast of Kingston, Ontario. She writes about striving for a sustainable off-grid life at http:/mytinyhouseadventures.blogspot.com

Autumn is a magical time on the homestead. Goldenrod is in bloom! If I step outside my front door, I can literally hear the buzzing of dozens, possibly hundreds of native pollinators, most of which are bumble bees. Who needs television or the internet when you can step right up and get this close to a bumble bee?

Bumble bee beauty enjoys the Goldenrod © Colette Kenny

When I bought this small parcel of land a few years ago, one of the first things I did was to proclaim it a butterfly conservation area. This was based on the numerous milkweed plants on the land, which I hoped would feed young monarch butterflies. At that time, I determined that I would allow as much of the lot as possible to maintain its native plants and wild meadow characteristics. No, I would not have a “lawn.”

Yes, this is my lawn. How many “weeds” and native plants can you identify? © Colette Kenny

Keeping the milkweed and the land “natural” has allowed a rich variety of plants and insects to thrive. I often see monarch butterflies flitting around the wildflowers; recently I had the magical experience of having one land on me. In addition, I regularly see insects that I have never seen before and cannot even imagine what they are… such is the diversity of life here!  The bumble bees are a particular joy as they buzz and bumble around.

A common eastern bumble bee visiting the Mullein flowers © Colette Kenny

Like the mullein pictured above, my little friends pollinated many medicinal plants on the land. These days, I am busy drying and preparing tinctures of St. John’s wort, mullein, prickly lettuce, dandelion root, red clover, and many more! I also saw countless bumble bees in my 20 by 30 foot vegetable garden, where I grow much of my own food.

Going “lawnless” has been a great choice for me. I hope my native pollinator friends would agree! It is a choice in keeping with my mission to live as lightly on the earth as possible and give back as much as I can. While I recognize that not everyone in the city can go “lawnless,” WPC has great resources to support you in taking whatever stewardship step you are ready for. Interested in adding some plants to attract native pollinators? Perhaps you’re in a position to allow a small area of your lawn to naturalize? Who knows who you’ll meet when you take these steps… get your camera ready!

A bumble bee waves goodbye! © Colette Kenny

To learn more about WPC’s Native Pollinator Initiative, including which species we support and some of the work that we do, click here! If you are an individual or community group looking to restore and build pollinator habitat, we provide wildflower seed grants of up to $2000. Stay tuned for spring 2021, when we release details about next year’s grant program to help us improve pollinator habitat across the country.