Create an oasis for bees and pollinators.
Bees provide us with an invaluable service by pollinating the plants we grow. The populations of more than 4,000 species of native bees, plus the non-native honey bee are declining rapidly, and the main culprits include the use of pesticides, climate change, and the spread of parasites.
Essential to our ecosystem and our bountiful dinner tables, bees need your help. The good news is you can bolster the bee population in your area by making your landscape a bee-friendly oasis. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind as you grow your bee garden. Added bonus: they’re attractive additions to your landscaping!
RETHINK YOUR LAWN
Replace part or all of your front lawn grass with flowering plants. Everything you do to strengthen biodiversity will also make your garden more hospitable for bees. Provide small, medium and large flowers that provide nectar and pollen for bees.
MAKE A WILD CORNER
If your garden has a south-facing bank, consider leaving it as a wild corner, it could offer great nest sites for warmth-loving solitary bees.
SHUN BEE-KILLING PESTICIDES
A high percentage of nursery plants have been treated with bee-toxic neonicitinoids which is a type of insecticide. Choose organic plants and learn how to grow your own plants from safe seeds and plant stock.
SELECT SINGLE FLOWER TOPS
Such as daisies and marigolds, rather than double flower tops such as double impatiens. Double headed flowers look showy but produce much less nectar and make it much more difficult for bees to access pollen.
PLAN FOR BLOOMS YEAR-ROUND
Water flowers when they are in bloom to ensure optimum nectar production. Long-blooming shrubs like snowberry and perennials such as catmint, yarrow and blanket flower help fill in bloom gaps.
BUILD THE BEE HOTELS
Leave a patch of the garden in a sunny spot uncultivated for native bees that burrow. Some native bees also need access to soil surface for nesting. For wood- and stem-nesting bees, this means piles of branches, bamboo sections, hollow reeds, or nesting blocks made out of untreated wood.
BUILD THE BEE BATH ALSO
Bees need a place to get fresh, clean water. Fill a shallow container of water with pebbles or twigs for the bees to land on while drinking.
LEAVE SOME WEEDS
Dandelions, false dandelions, clover and English daisies are great weeds for bees. You could leave certain areas of the garden completely undisturbed and let nature take its course.
LET SOME VEGETABLES AND HERBS GROW
Kale, basil, cilantro, radishes, carrots, and leeks all provide food for bees when left to blossom and repay you by pollinating your food crops.
PLANT BEEPOTHACARY HERBS
Bees use select aromatic herbs to boost their health. Lavender, oregano and thyme help bees fight disease-spreading mites.
More and more gardeners are anxious to plant a bee garden. By planting a bee garden, you too can do your part to help the bees by adding to the shrinking inventory of flower-rich habitat in your area. In return, the bees will pollinate your flowers, providing a bountiful harvest of fruits, seeds and vegetables as well as the joy of watching them up close.