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Verify: Does cleaning out flower beds this early hurt pollinators?

Social media post making the rounds saying the practice could kill bees and butterflies, but will it?

AKRON, Ohio — The sounds of Spring echo through the grounds of Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens. There's a lot of work to do.

 "We have 75 acres total, but 30 acres that we maintain as garden space", says Shelley Funai. 

She's the Grounds Manager at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens and our expert to verify the question: does it hurt pollinators if you clean out your beds too early?

"We sort of laugh about what's too early to clean out your beds because in Northeast Ohio, you want to do it when it's nice and sunny like this so we just take advantage of the weather."

 Funai also said that a lot of people clean out their flower beds when it's convenient for them and they may not think about pollinators. Certain bees overwinter under leaves or in twigs. Are they in danger?

 Funai said, "As long as we have consistent 50 degree days, it'll probably be OK."

The worry is the pollinators, if awakened, would starve. But right now, food is available. The grounds at Stan Hywet are set to explode in a blanket of color. They've planted twenty thousand tulip bulbs and they're breaking through the soil. Funai continued, "Soon enough we'll have lots of wildflowers blooming.Daffodils, tulips, all your Spring bulbs are coming up."

So don't worry. We've verified you won't hurt pollinators like bees and butterflies if you clean out your beds now, so the social media statement is false. If you want to help pollinators, look into loosely composting the leaf litter and maybe put up a mason bee house.

 The insects and the flowers will thank you, and that's verified. 

If you have a question you'd like verified, send it to newsdesk@wkyc.com and we may try and get the answer. 

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