Pollinator Conservation

Native pollinators are essential to natural ecosystems.  They help maintain healthy, productive native plant communities.  Many animals, from birds to grizzly bears, depend on insect-pollinated fruit and seed. Pollinating insects are a central part of the food web, being food themselves for birds, spiders, bats and fish.

Bees are the most important pollinators, and there are more than 600 species of native bees in British Columbia.  Native bees play a critical, unheralded, role in the pollination of food crops.  Honeybees get all the credit, but native bees are efficient pollinators of the food we love to eat.

Other important pollinators include butterflies, beetles, wasps, flies, and hummingbirds.  All are important elements of our ecosystems!

Helping Native Pollinators

Native plants and their pollinators co-evolved over millennia and very much need each other.  Conserving one helps conserve the other!  Native plants have adapted to local climates and soils and are the best sources of nectar and pollen for native pollinators.  Native plantings for pollinators should follow a few basic rules:

  • plant a diversity of flowers for bloom throughout the growing season.
  • plant flowers in clumps.
  • choose several colours of flowers:  bees particularly like blue, purple and yellow; hummingbirds love red; butterflies prefer yellow, purple and pink!
  • include flowers of different shapes and sizes.

Creating and protecting nesting and overwintering sites is critical.  It helps to be a bit messy!  Bare ground is good for our ground-nesting bees, and upright stems left over winter are necessary for stem-nesting bees.

The Kootenay Native Plant Society has identified many plants that can be grown by West Kootenay gardeners that are easy to grow and will attract a diverse array of pollinators throughout the pollen season.

Perennial flowers

  • Douglas’ aster
  • Canada goldenrod
  • showy milkweed
  • round-leaved alumroot
  • camas
  • pearly everlasting
  • golden-aster


  • shrubby penstemon
  • saskatoon berry
  • choke cherry
  • oceanspray
  • black hawthorn
  • wild rose
  • mallow ninebark

We collect seed annually and make it available to the public at seed sales and information booths throughout the year. Plants are grown for sale and for restoration projects on request. We offer workshops and landowner consultations on a fee-for-service basis. Contact us for more information.


Protecting Pollinators in the Columbia Basin

Download your own copy of our popular poster.

Native Plants for Butterflies

You can make a difference for butterflies!

Join Bumble Bee Watch!

There are about 30 species of bumble bees in the Kootenays.  We know very little about their distribution.

Download the app and start submitting your sightings.