Albert Einstein said, “If the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, man would only have four years left to live.” I don’t know what he claimed is true or not. I’m not sure there’s a way to know before it’s too late, but I for one, don’t want to test his theory.
Ever since we had honeybees in our side yard/dog run I’ve been more aware of their plight and how bees are connected with our survival on this planet. Bees pollinate most of the crops that feed the majority of the world’s population. No bees. No food. Pretty simple.
With their habitats shrinking and pesticides doing damage, I’m working on creating a more bee friendly space in my yard. Don’t have a huge plot of land for a bee garden? No worries. Even space as small as a window garden will help make for a bee friendlier world.
Here’s what I’ve learned in my research:
- Choose single flower plants such as daisies or marigolds. These plants produce more nectar than plants with double headed flowers. It’s also harder for bees to access these flowers to get the pollen.
- Avoid hybridized plants as they produce little pollen.
- Provide a constant food source for bees by planting at least three different kinds flowers for each season.
- Help bees create nesting spaces. This requires different action depending on the bees you have. For example, burrowing bees need a sunny spot uncultivated in a garden. Other bees need branches, bamboo sections, or hollow reeds for nesting.
- Avoid using pesticides and herbicides. Ladybugs, spiders and praying mantises are nature’s pest control. When I had aphids I discovered many nurseries sell bags of ladybugs to add to a garden.
Provide a watering hole for bees. Fill a shallow container with water and add twigs or pebbles for bee landing places. If you do this, make sure to continually refill the water so the bees know they can return to this spot every day.
- Create a “bee hotel.” The website Discover Wildlife says tying together bamboo canes or drilling 5–10mm holes a block of wood and hanging it I’m a sunny, south facing spot will do the trick. I’ve found examples/how to’s on Pinterest. Click here to check out my Bee Friendly Garden board.
- Add Fruit trees to your landscaping.
- Plant bee friendly plants in large mass plantings if possible. This lets bees arrive and “tank up” before moving on. Mass planting are also easier for bees to find.
Now that we know what to do and not do, let’s talk plants. Here are some plants I found listed as bee friendly. Remember to have different type, so hopefully you’ll have something flowering all the time.
- Herbs: Mint, rosemary, oregano, sage, thyme, salvia
- Annuals: Marigolds, aster, poppy, sunflowers, sweet alyssum, zinnia
- Perennials: Crocus, Geraniums, hollyhock, allium
- Others: Bergamot, lantana, borage, butterfly busy, black-eyed Susan, yarrow, Roman Chamomile, milkweed, forget-me-not, pansies, sweet peas
- Lavender and borage flower for a long time, making them super for bees.
- Blue and yellow flowering plants are extra great for bees. From what I discovered, it has to do with what colors they see best.
- Choose plants with easy access center. This usually means “old-fashioned” versions rather than hybrids.
I’m a big believer that small changes can make a big difference, especially if we all do our part. So, I’m off to my local nursery to go shopping for a few plants.
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