Wildlife Habitat


Insectaries for Pollinators and Farm Biodiversity:
An Innovative Pilot Project

Digger bee, photo credit: Steve Johnson
This project was a pilot effort to enhance pollinator habitat on seven working farms, including a vineyard, three organic vegetable crop farms, a cattle ranch, an orchard, and one diverse farm with grapes, vegetable crops, and livestock.

The project was a collaborative effort led by the Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District, including participation from Farm Stewards, Partners for Sustainable Pollination, the Xerces Society, the North Coast Resource Conservation and Development Council, and the many landowners and community members who helped to plant nearly 2 acres of pollinator habitat using over 6,100 plants.

Orchard bee, photo credit: Steve Johnson
The partners worked in close collaboration with EQIP-eligible landowners to develop and implement Farm Pollinator Plans specific to each property with a particular focus on enhancing native bee habitat, while working to improve yields and farm profits. The plans included a variety of measures such as the creation of hedgerows, field borders, nesting structures, appropriate flowering cover crop mixes, contour buffer strips and drift barriers, critical area planting, filter strips, and riparian and farm pond revegetation.

Plantings were specifically designed to provide nesting habitat and year-round pollen and nectar sources for both native bee species and honeybees, while also supporting other pollinator species such as hummingbirds and bats. Native bees have diverse habitat needs, as many are ground nesters, cavity nesters, or stem borers. This necessitated that plans use species beyond simply flowering plants, including rushes, sedges, or woody species known to house cavity nesters. Plantings also had to take into account flower shapes, colors, and bloom times. A list of plant species used in the project can be found in the link below.

Leaf-cutter bee, photo credit: Steve Johnson
Several of the plantings were conducted in areas where irrigation was not feasible, including a rangeland property and a non-irrigated vineyard. The rangeland site used DriWater®, packets of a gel which is digested by soil microbes to release water as soil dries. The packets need to be replaced every six weeks during the dry season. The non-irrigated vineyard site used Groasis Waterboxxes®, plastic tubs which trap water through condensation while providing weed control and browse protection. Project staff monitored plantings using Citizen Science Monitoring techniques developed by the Xerces Society, in order to determine native bee abundance and diversity within the plantings. Sites were also monitored for plant survival.

The Gold Ridge RCD is currently seeking additional funding to continue the pollinator program, and is soliciting EQIP-eligible landowners for participation in the next round of plantings. For more information please contact:

Noelle Johnson

Over 1,200 plants create wildlife corridors at Rued Vineyards along Graton Road.

Over 1,700 plants were installed on Singing Frogs Farm in Sebastopol to enhance native pollinator habitat, wildlife corridors, and on-farm biodiversity.

More information

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