Bees are champion pollinators and thrive in pesticide free urban gardens in Kamloops, Vernon and Kelowna. In addition to flowers, they also love flowering trees that provide pollen and nectar as a protein source for them and developing offspring. Bees help pollinate about 75 percent of the world’s food crops and the trees that produce fruit, nuts, and the oxygen we breathe.
Mason bees are tiny, tunnel nesting solitary bees that produce offspring without the support of a colony. They rarely sting and are active pollinators that you can attract to your garden by securing a nesting box with tunnels to one of the trees in your yard. The southern and central Okanagan are also home to bumble bees and domestic honeybees that help produce a wide variety of fruit grown locally. Apple trees, cherry trees, and all other fruit trees bloom to provide bees with pollen and in turn, provide us with an abundance of natural, healthy food, including honey. In a nutshell: We need bees to produce food.
Other trees that pollinators love include:
Red Maple: a large tree that blooms in April to May and attract bees, butterflies, wasps and flies. Red Sunset Maple Trees are popular for their spectacular fiery red foliage in late fall. After pollination, they produce winged helicopter seed pods that spin to the ground when mature. To remain healthy, Red Maples need full sun, appropriate water according to seasonal demands, and protection from damaging pests. Red Maples are cold hardy and heat resistant.
Balsam Poplar: another large tree that blooms in March to April for bees and butterflies. Their distribution is largely in the northeast of our province, but can be planted in moist, rich, low-lying ground in river valleys and rural areas for windbreaks. Their pollen catkins can reach up to 10 cm in length and because they are a native species, they thrive in our planting zones.
Native Black Cherry: native to Canada, this fast-growing tree grows up to 24 metres high in a large variety of soils and attracts bees and flies for pollination. They’re closely related to chokecherries, producing an edible fruit.
Further reading: What are Heirloom Fruit Trees in Vernon, Kelowna and Kamloops BC