We gardeners share a love for nature and for the protection of Mother Earth. Some of us just groan when we hear about this river being polluted or that the frog population decreasing. One such piece of painful news is the decline of the bee population across the globe. Yes, I was afraid of bees when I was a kid and I would screech and run from fear of a bee sting, but little did I know the great contribution that bees provide to health of our gardens and we owe a debt to the service and food they provide
How Bees Help Us
More and more gardeners are interested in adding to the shrinking population of bees. We know what bees contribute to our lives: they pollinate our flowers; they aid in producing a rich harvest of fruits, seeds, nuts and vegetables; and they can be a great source of wonder in watching their behavior up close. Without the honeybee in particular, we would not enjoy the plant diversity many of us take for granted. It’s safe to say that I don’t run away from them anymore!
Instead of running from bees, to ensure that your garden thrives you should find ways to attract these benevolent insects. Here are some tips to attract bees to your patch of heaven:
- Create the right environment: Just like people, bees from different parts of the country like to live in places they feel comfortable. Some bees love the sun so they can burrow. Other bees need soil to nest. For wood loving bees, they need piles of branches in which to hide and nest. Water loving bees need access to water and mud and some bees are attracted to hedges and dense vegetation.
- Make your lawn a home: Carve out a piece of your lawn and replace your grass with some of the things that will encourage home building for bees. As mentioned in tip #1, there are several ways to provide what your native bee population likes.
- Limit chemical herbicides: Keep toxic herbicides or pesticides out of your garden. In place of harmful chemicals introduce those dainty ladybugs and spiders that just love to eat smaller, destructive pests.
- Add the right plants: Native plants are unique to the bees in your area and their adaptation to those plants provides a food source, attracting hungry bees. Planting natives also makes bee pollination easier.
- Believe it or not, bees like a bath! They like clean, fresh water and are attracted to bee baths. Once they find a water source they zoom on in to drink and soak? If you keep the water fresh and clean, bees will remember and come back each year!
There are several different types of flowers that attract bees. Their blooms signal to bees that there is a food source. More blooms = more food = more bees = more blooms. You get it? Here are a few flowers to consider adding:
- Spring flowers: crocus, wild lilac, hyacinth and calendula, bee balm, snapdragons, foxglove, Echinacea for the summer
- Fall flowers: aster, witch hazel, zinnias and sedum.
As you can see bees offer 360 degrees of benefit to your garden. If we invite bees into our gardens, they will continually enrich our habitat by pollinating the flowers as well providing us with nourishing honey that tastes good, feels good, and sometimes can be a natural remedy for what ails us.