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I love all pollinators. But it is usually much easier to promote helping to save the butterflies than the bees.

Neighbors with stingers make people more nervous. We are not always sure how to deal with them or live with them in our yards and neighborhoods.

I would like to help you if I can.

The best way I know how to do this is by getting to know our neighbors’ needs and instinctive behaviors. So when you are outside, be aware and pay attention to details.

I want to be respectful of their needs and space while feeling safe to be in my yard and doing my normal activities outside, such as gardening.

If you have a question about bees and butterflies, you are welcome to email me, and I will help if I can. The way I help the most is usually in the form of information. “A little knowledge is power,” to quote a person who sent a question.

Her question was about bees coming to her bird bath and how to coexist with them. They did not seem happy when she was filling the bird bath, and she was a little worried about their increasing numbers and that she might have a problem with them in the near future.

Bees need a water source, especially when it is hot, so they can cool their hives. It will be easier for the bees to get water without drowning if stones, glass beads or burlap are added to the bird bath.

Bees go home at night, so the bird bath can be filled as well as other activities in the yard without their company at night.

Beekeepers normally put out multiple water sources for their hives to reduce the amount the bees visit other bird baths and pools. Pool owners can also keep a cover on the pool when not in use to reduce the number of bees and other insects that get into their pools.

Just like us, the pollinators need space to have a safe place to live, clean water and food.

It is easier to get along with our pollinator neighbors when we know and understand their needs.

Learning how to set up boundaries so they respect our space and we respect theirs is important. We need to give each other room to “be”/”bee.”

Another email I got was about bumblebees in the lawn. Bumblebees normally have their nest underground. If you step on or near the entrance to the nest, one or more of the bees will fly near your head and try to warn you off.

Most people miss these warnings and notice them when we get stung.

The best response is to walk away. Even if you are not exactly sure where the entrance is, move away and diffuse the situation. Respect their needs and yours. More on bumblebees in my next article.

I appreciate the pollinators’ contributions to our food supply and ecosystems.

You can make your yard pleasing to you and help feed the bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

Happy sharing.

Dr. Lesley Deem is director and teacher at the University of Illinois Pollinatarium and Department of Entomology. For more information about scheduling a visit to the Pollinatarium virtually or in person, email

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