Bee a Friend to Pollinators!
Three family-friendly activities to celebrate pollinators this summer
Pollinators need us, and we need pollinators. Bees, birds, bats, butterflies, beetles, and other insects and small mammals play a very important role in our ecosystem and food production. In fact, pollinators bring us three-quarters of our food! They also keep our ecosystems healthy by helping plants reproduce.
Share a photo for free seeds!
Live in Western Washington? Send us a photo of your pollinator project this summer to receive free native plant seeds! These seeds are suitable for counties in Western Washington.
- Share your pollinator project photo online at https://wdfw.wa.gov/share.
- Include your mailing address in photo description to receive your free packet of native plant seeds. Due to high demand, delivery may take up to four weeks.
1. Pollinator Puddle
Puddles or other shallow water sources provide an important source of salt and amino acids for butterflies. You can attract more butterflies to your property with this simple butterfly puddle.
Gather your materials
- Shallow container (e.g., large clay or plastic pot saucer)
- Soil, composted manure, or salt
- Rocks and paint (optional)
- Sponges (optional)
- Locate a shallow container that can hold water.
- Fill the container with sand to the top.
- To provide salts and amino acids for the butterflies, add a small amount of soil, composted manure, or a pinch of salt and mix with sand.
- Smooth out the sand and create a slight indention in the center for a puddle. Add painted rocks for decoration if you’d like.
- Add water to the container and place outside. Add additional sponges to hold water if you’d like. Watch for butterflies!
- Replace water as needed. Depending on the weather, you may need to add more water every couple of days.
2. Pollinator Puppets
Make some butterflies of your own with this simple and fun butterfly finger puppet craft. When you are done with your finger puppet, use it to tell stories or for a sing along!
Gather your materials
- Cardstock of any color
- Crayons, markers, or colored pencils
- Twigs, flower petals, and leaves
- Draw a butterfly or bee shape on cardstock and cut it out.
- Fold the butterfly or bee in half, and cut two lines into the center to create a loop to place your finger.
- Glue leaves, flower petals, and other decorations firmly onto the cutout. Optional: Attach some twigs to the center of the butterfly or bee.
- Once dry, place butterfly or bee on your finger and have fun making it flutter around!
3. Pollinator Garden
When flowers are blooming, pollinators are busy searching for pollen. Have you noticed plants in your yard that seem to attract a specific pollinator? Do you know what type of plant it is? Learning which plants are already in your yard will help you add complimentary plants to support even more pollinators.
There are many resources to help you identify plants. Your family may already have plant identification books. There are also many online resources such as Washington Native Plant Society and apps like iNaturalist to help you identify plants.
- Download your free planting guide based on your zip code from our friends at the Pollinator Partnership.
- Download the Attracting Pollinators to Your Garden booklet from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Once you’ve identified what you already have, you can begin planning additional pollinator-friendly plants to add to your yard.
Gather your materials
- Native plants or seeds
- Pick a location. Pollinators enjoy sunshine and some of their favorite flowers grow in full sun or partial shade. They also prefer protection from the wind. Mark these locations on your landscape design.
- Assess your soil. Some plants prefer sandy, well-drained soil, others prefer wetter soil that is more like clay. Dig in and feel the grains between your fingers. Sandy soils will feel gritty and will fall through your fingers. Clay soils will feel smooth and sticky when wet.
- Choose native plants. Get the most out of your efforts by choosing native, perennial plants. Perennials return each year and native varieties require less maintenance and are heartier. Include plants that bloom at different times of the year, from spring to fall.
- Prepare your space. Remove grass or other plant covers, create a raised bed, or add soil to patio pots. Add some compost or nutrient-rich soil to help your plants grow.
- Plant flowers or seeds. Follow frost guidance to avoid putting small plants in the ground too early. When risk of frost is gone, dig a hole just large enough for the root ball. Add extra compost and water regularly. Seeds need time to germinate and may need to go out in fall or winter; follow packet instructions.
- Maintain and enjoy. Make sure to water and weed your pollinator garden. The bees, butterflies, and other pollinators will thank you by visiting your flowers!