This is a glorious time of year to observe the pollinators at work. We use buckwheat as a cover crop to provide a feast of pollen and nectar for our pollinators: bees, butterflies and all manner of other insects*. Below an Eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) is taking advantage of this temporary food source.
The buckwheat will be terminated soon and replaced by a cover crop of cowpeas. Right now we are using a striped method of mowing to preserve some of the crop as a final food source for the bees. However, the crop's usefulness does not end with its termination:. Buckwheat takes up phosphorus from the soil, which is then released as the crop residue decomposes.
*Interesting facts: did you know that moths can be a more efficient pollinator than bees? Moths also outnumber butterflies by species by about 3 to 1. (Source: a recent study from the University of Sussex in the U.K.)
All photos (c) Grapewood Farm