In honor of Earth Day, I’d like to use today’s post to talk a bit about your friendly neighborhood BUMBLEBEE! These fuzzy little flyers are one of our ecosystem’s most important native pollinators, but unfortunately, their population numbers are in dangerous decline.
With their large furry bodies and general foraging habits, bumblebees are uniquely effective pollinators, helping to produce flowers, fruit and food for hundreds of different species, including people! Yet many of our native bees are facing dramatic population declines due to habitat loss, pesticide use, climate change, and introduction of diseases.
Want to help? Today I’ll share a bumblebee-friendly project for Earth Day that you can make yourself to help restore helpful habitat for native pollinators: Wildflower Seed Bombs!!!
A “seed bomb” is a little nugget made from clay and soil that contains plant or flower seeds. They can be lobbed over fences, tossed out windows, dropped on the ground or planted directly in your yard. Soil or compost acts as a growth medium, while clay holds the bomb together and protects the seeds from blowing or washing away on the surface of the ground. For our bumblebee bombs, we want to use seeds of native flowers that will be attractive and useful for our insect friends.
To make a batch, you will need:
– natural clay or clay powder (I purchased mine from Amazon here)
– seed starting soil or compost
– native wildflower seeds (I made my bombs with Aster, Coneflower, Snapdragon, Butterfly weed, Columbine, and Coreopsis)
When choosing your seeds, there are a few important things to consider. First, you’ll want to pick seeds that will attract and feed bees. Here’s a fun fact: Bees prefer flowers that are purple, blue, and yellow, since they can see the world in UV! Second, you want to choose plants that are native to the region where you live. There are a lot of great resources online to help you determine bee-friendly local plants, but if you are interested to read more, I recommend checking out the Xerces Society website!
Now for the fun part – getting your hands dirty! In a container, mix together your clay powder, soil, and just enough water to create a muddy paste. Many seed bomb recipes recommend a 5:1 ratio of clay to compost, but the clay that I used directed a 1:1 mix, so thats what I did and it worked out well for me.
Grab a dime-sized amount of the mixture, and press in a few seeds. Exactly how many seed you want to use in each bomb depends on the germination rate of each species, but if you don’t want to get technical, just throw in 2-5. Less for larger seeds, a few more for the tiny ones. Then roll into a tight ball.
They kinda look like little deer poops, right? It’s okay- it’s for a good cause! Now leave your bombs out in the sun or a warm area to dry, this may take a day or so.
If you’re making these for your OWN guerrilla gardening interest, then you’re all done! Bombs away! But I plan to give some away to friends and family on Earth Day, so of course I had to package them up adorably…
I grabbed some scrap fabric and cut it into small squares…
…placed a handful of seed bombs onto each square…
…then tied them up with twine into little bee bomb bundles! (how do you like THAT for alliteration!?) I also think these would make awesome favors for a spring wedding or garden party!
My seed bomb arsenal is ready. Bonus: these babies will also be helpful in supporting butterflies and honeybees (which face their own plight from the mysterious Colony Collapse Disorder). Plus they’re pretty! :)
HAPPY EARTH WEEK!
P.S. – In case you were wondering, Bumblebees are non-aggressive and rarely sting people!