Natural Shore Technologies |  612-703-7581 
April Article

 Bee Friendly Spring Clean-Ups


With the snow finally melting, our maintenance crews are eager to get out in the field and perform annual spring clean-ups of our restorations sites!  Usually this entails cutting down the old vegetation from last year and raking it out to leave a nice tidy open area.  This enables more sunlight to reach the ground, and this solar radiation helps to trigger plant growth.   However, with our native bee populations in decline, it's worth considering how to best manage our restoration areas.  Can we strike a balance between bee habitat, plant regeneration, and aesthetic needs? 



Many different species of bees and other pollinators use natural area restorations for habitat. Insects have varied habitat needs.  Using our native bees as an example, 30% of bees nest in cavities made from hallowed out stems of old vegetation or in trees and shrubs. The other 70% are ground nesters, needing patches of bare ground to nest.  Historically, our spring clean-ups have left more bare ground for those types of bees.


Ground Nests (Photo by Heather Holm)
Cavity Nest (Photo by Heather Holm)


After seeking advice from several experts, we now are suggesting that our clients think about leaving habitat for the 30% of bees that use ground litter and old vegetation for nesting sites.   Heather Holm, author of Pollinators of Native Plants, says "Leaving some pieces of stems that are hollow (at least 8" long) on the ground can provide nesting sites."  She also advised that some species have specific preferences for their habitat as well, like the small carpenter bee that favors their nests made out of soft wood orientated at an angle. She suggested placing perennial stems that weren't hollow at an angle in the restorations for these bees to use. 

Small Carpenter Bee (Photo by Heather Holm)


Crystal Boyd, entomologist at the Minnesota DNR, also had sage advice about what habitat to leave for bees, "It's safe to say that many tall, hollow grasses provide nesting habitat. Some bees use pithy shrubs (like elderberry, boxelder, sumac, raspberry, blackberry, and dogwood). Other bees use standing dead wood that has beetle tunnels."


Last season's vegetation also has pupae (bee offspring) from last year's nesting sites that won't emerge until later this season.  Leaving this vegetation on site will ultimately increase resident bee production. So this year, Natural Shore maintenance crews will work with clients to leave more vegetation from last year standing, especially hollow stems or pithy materials that bees can used for their nesting habitat. Our bee experts have told us cutting down the vegetation but not raking it all off of the site is one way to make the restorations look "neater" while still maintaining habitat and function to the site. 


Visit our Maintenance Program webpage to learn more about our bee-friendly practices or contact our Maintenance Coordinator Tracy at or 612-220-4178. To learn more about another issue threatening pollinators, neonicotinoid pesticides, visit our blog page here.


Interested in learning more about pollinators and their relationships with native plants? Check out Heather Holm's new book Pollinators of Native Plants. It is available on Amazon and sold in our retail nursery.

Native Plant of the Month
Campanula rotundifolia
Moisture: Dry
Exposure: Full or Partial Sun
Bloom: June- September
Color: Purple
Height: 1-1.5 ft  


A rhizomatous perennial with heart-shaped basal leaves which disappear when flower stalks are formed.  Stem leaves are long and thin. The delicate purple flowers dangle laxly from wiry stems.  Harebell petals are fused to form a bell.  Bruised plants exude a milky sap.  Although the plant appears delicate, it is very tough.  Grows well in dry, nutrient-poor soils, dry open woodlands, cliffs, and beaches.  Native Americans used the roots for medicine.  The Scottish used the flowers to obtain a blue dye for their tartans.  Another common name is bluebells of Scotland.

Invasive Plant of the Month
Common Tansy
Tanacetum vulgare


Exposure: Partial Shade/ Full Sun
Moisture: Dry
Height: 2-5 feet
Blooms: July-October


Description: A perennial from Eurasia, Common Tansy is an invasive species on Minnesota's Noxious Weed Control List. This means efforts must be made to prevent the seed from spreading. It has multiple stems that grow in a clump with alternate fern-like leaves. The yellow flowers are in the shape of small buttons and form an umbel on top of the plant. Stems have a darker reddish color. The leaves emit a strong odor when they are crushed. It often infests disturbed habitats like alongside roads, pastures, and trails. Small patches can be manually removed. Larger infestations can be mowed to prevent further seeding and then sprayed with a select herbicide in late June. Multiple management strategies will probably be needed over a number of years to get larger infestations under control. 
Pollinator of the Month
Photo by Heather Holm

Great Golden Digger Wasp

Sphex ichneumoneus


Range: Southern Canada down to Central America

Habitat: Open areas like parks, fields, and meadows

Identification: 1/2-1 inch long, the Great Golden Digger Wasp has a black head and thorax with tiny golden hairs. The top of the abdomen is a golden-orange with a black bottom.


They might look intimidating but they are NOT AGGRESSIVE and very rarely sting people. They are a beneficial insect that helps pollinate native plants as well as predates on grasshoppers, crickets, katydids, and other insects. They bring the paralyzed insect back to their nests as food for their larvae.


Pollination: Great Golden Digger Wasps feed on nectar from many native plants including Pale Indian plantain, Rattlesnake Master, Horsemint, Swamp Milkweed, White and Purple Prairie Clover, Virginia Mountain Mint, and many more! 


Want to learn more about pollinators and Native Plants? Buy Heather Holm's book  Pollinators of Native Plants! Available on Amazon and at Natural Shore's Retail Nursery! 

Employee Profile

Joe Ackerman

Natural Shore welcomes our new Installation Manager Joe to the crew! Joe is a recent graduate from the University of Minnesota with a B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife Management and an emphasis on Conservation Biology. He has extensive knowledge in landscaping from working at the University of Minnesota and other private companies. He also has extensive plant and tree identification skills. An avid outdoorsman, Joe loves fishing, camping, and being around Minnesota's wonderful natural areas. He also loves playing golf. 

April 2014 Issue
Our Company
Upcoming Events!
Plymouth Yard and Garden Logo
Plymouth Yard and Garden Expo! Come join us Friday April 11th 6pm-9pm and Saturday April 12th 9am-1pm at the Plymouth Creek Center Fieldhouse, 14800 34th Ave. N., Plymouth.
Retail Nursery News
Our Retail Nursery will open in May!

Click and visit our website for current
Minnnesota Native Plant Brand ensures that plant species are native to Minnesota. 
Garden Tours
Natural Shore is now hosting FREE field trips for Garden Clubs with 10 or more members. Come join our Native Plant Specialist Shirley Mah Kooyman for a 1 hour lecture and tour of our retail nursery in Maple Plain! Your club will get an up close experience learning more about Minnesota Natives! 

Choose from one of the following lectures:

  1. Minnesota's Native Plants: A Sampling for Your Garden
  2. Landscaping with Native Plants
  3. Top 30 Native Plants for your Garden

Call or email Shirley for more information at 763-464-8323 or at