Help save Virginia’s honey bees: Plant a pollinator window box

virginiaThe Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services urges consumers all over Virginia to help restore our honey bee populations.

“We are experiencing about a 30 percent loss of hives per year,” explained Keith Tignor, State Apiarist at VDACS, “and we are tackling the problem in a variety of ways. One way is to encourage people to plant pollinator gardens or pollinator window boxes.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has helpful tips on creating a pollinator window box that works as well for apartment dwellers and city residents as it does for farmers or rural residents. See  Click “Get Started,” then click the house and select “Helpful Tips.” (Or you can go directly to content/usda_windowbox.pdf.)

The new tool allows people to determine which plants will provide pollinator forage based on their zip code. Site visitors can then print out the list of plants to take to their local garden store and grow them in a box. Even a space as small as a window box can help pollinators by ensuring they don’t have to fly too far to find food.

Other helpful tips:

  • Be patient – start small. You can expand over time.
  • Plant native plant species.
  • Be showy – plant for blooms in spring, summer and fall.
  • Be diverse – include an assortment of sizes, shapes, colors, heights and growth patterns.
  • Be careful with pesticides – check the label to make sure any pesticides you use do not harm bees.
  • Be more aware – Observe your garden and its visitors. Educate others about the importance of pollinators and inspire them to plant for pollinators.

More tips are available at or go to and search “honey bees” for a guide to beekeeping for adults and kids.

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