Don’t clean that yard just yet.
April is a season of spectacular changes. Today is partly sunny and warm, and we walk outside without a coat to soak up the 60-degree weather. Last week, the blue Siberian Squill flowers at our entrance rose defiant against the wet snow. When the snow melts, we uncover bits of plastic that are buried and blown about by the winter winds. Go ahead, pick up that plastic – but don’t go on a cleaning raid. Leave alone the leaf litter and sticks that are stacked against the side of the house.
You don’t need to mow quite yet either, so leave the sticks on the mushy ground. Bumble bees like to make their nest in the soil in cavities or burrows. You can spot the nests when you see worker bees flying in and out of the entrance, or perhaps you drive your mower over it and the very irritated bees will chase you and sting you, repeatedly. Really, that mower is just not going to start and it is only going to make you mad, so leave the bumble bees alone and go back inside and finish your stupid taxes.
Pollinators in the garden aren’t fooled by the warm days. Their chrysalides are still clinging to last years dried sticks and leaves. I know, you saw some bees flying around. There are some pollinators that come out early, but they still need cover on those chilly nights. Last year’s leaf litter provides protection for both plants and invertebrates against late-season frosts. The cherry trees bloom first in Ohio and the pollinator party starts, but wait until the apple trees are done blooming before you go at it with your itchy green thumb. That way you will ensure all the late-to-emerge pollinating species also have a chance.
Some excellent resources on pollinator biology habitat can be found here: