Bee meadow

Food plots are not just for deer, turkeys and doves. In fact, various food plot mixtures are as beneficial for pollinators as expensive wildflower plantings. Mixtures of certain annual and perennial plants, including various clovers and chicory, that provide large amounts of high-quality forage for deer and turkeys also provide a continuous source of nectar for pollinators from mid-April through August.    

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“It is widely acknowledged that important pollinators, such as monarch butterflies and honeybees, are in decline,” TWRA Wildlife Habitat Biologist Stephen Thomas said. “It is important for wildlife managers to consider these species along with the game species that get the most attention. The good thing is we can do both. With just a little forethought, our food plots can provide important food resources for game and nongame species, including pollinators, on the same acreage.”

Dr. Craig Harper, with the University of Tennessee Extension, offers a wide variety of science-based publications that include information on creating effective food plot mixtures, as well as information on managing old-fields. Publications can be accessed at https://ag.tennessee.edu/fwf/craigharper/Pages/default.aspx. Smart food plot mixtures can be incorporated into old forest roads, log landings, firebreaks and old-field areas, supplementing naturally occurring foods and helping to maximize property for a diversity of wildlife species and meeting your management objectives.

To help bring additional notice to the importance of pollinators, 13 years ago the U.S. Senate unanimously approved and designated a week in June as “National Pollinator Week,” marked necessary to step toward addressing the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations. Pollinator Week is underway through June 28 and has now grown into an international celebration of the valuable ecosystem services provided by bees, birds, butterflies and beetles.

TWRA has extensive information on its website about managing habitat. Visit www.tnwildlife-habitat.com.

—TWRA

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