Pollinator Supportive Trees
Why plant trees for pollinators?
Flowering trees are an important source of pollen and nectar for pollinators. They are especially important in spring, when tired, overwintered bees emerge and need. Maples and willows are notable trees that provide an early supply of food. Apples and cherries bloom a bit later, providing beautiful blossoms, and good food.
Flowering trees are also great for pollinators because they provide a large amount of food at one time. American basswood is one of the best nectar producers you can have. When an American basswood is in full bloom, it attracts many bees and other pollinators. If you have a small space, and want to maximize the pollinator food that you provide, trees are usually your best option.
What trees are good for pollinators?
Other trees that are good for pollinators include tulip trees, fruit trees, dogwood, wild black cherry, common choke cherry, catalpa, black locust, and many lindens. Some hybrid ornamental trees have blossoms that look pretty, but don't provide nectar for pollinators. When in doubt, as questions, or go for native plants!
You might also consider flowering shrubs that support pollinators. Spicebush and buttonbush are two great options that are native to Michigan.
More lists of trees for bees:
- The Arbor Day Foundation maintains a list of trees that are good for pollinators
- Heather Holm created a lovely table that lists pollinator friendly trees and their bloom time.
- The Ohio State University has a fact sheet (ENT-71) on Ohio Trees for Bees.
Where to find pollinator-friendly trees
MSU - Finding Seedlings
Local tree nurseries
(know a nursery with pollinator-friendly trees that isn't listed? email firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Honeytree Nursery- located in Shelbyville, MI. This nursery is run by arborist and beekeeper Mike Connor.
- Windy Rock Farm, Manchester, MI
- Alpha Nurseries- located in Holland, MI.
- Thornapple River Nursery- located in Ada, MI
- Cardno Native Plant Nursery- located in Walkerton, IN
- Most Michigan Conservation Districts have annual tree sales, and many even have packages of pollinator friendly plants. Contact your conservation district for more info.
Take care of your pollinator trees
Make sure that you take care of your trees. It takes time for them to become established, and they have to be healthy to produce lots of nectar.
- MSU -Look Before you Plant Landscape Trees
- MSU Extension - Home Trees and Shrubs
- MSU - Planting Fruit Trees
- MSU - Tree Planting in Michigan
- Michigan DNR - Tree and Shrub Planting
- Michigan Gardner - Step-by-Step Guide to Planting Trees and Shrubs
- The National Wildlife Federation has a nice Tree Planting and Tree Care Guide.
- The Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) created a guide Farm for Wildlife with Hedgerows that has more information on planting trees.
- The Arbor Day Foundation has a tree planting guide that can help get your trees established.