Assessing pollinator friendliness of plants and designing mixes to restore habitat for bees

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This study assessed the attractiveness and use by bees of 24 native plant species that are standard for revegetation projects (focal plants) on national forest lands in western Montana. Focal plants that had the highest visitation rate, attracted the most bee species, supported specialist bee species, and bloomed for extended periods across the landscape were considered “pollinator-friendly.” Our results suggest that Salix bebbiana, Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, Lupinus sericeus, Rosa woodsii, Symphoricarpos albus, Erigeron speciosus, Symphyotrichum foliaceum, and Gaillardia aristata could create a seed mix that is effective for pollinator restoration on public lands. Pollinator-friendliness score cards are provided to allow land managers to select plant species to include in restoration mixes that benefit pollinators. Identifying mixes of pollinator-friendly native plant species that are available for restoration will allow land managers to both revegetate disturbed habitats and restore bee communities on federal lands. The methods developed in this project can be used to design seed mixes for pollinator restoration on other public lands.

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