Be Friendly to the Bees with a Bee-Friendly Garden
Bees do much more than make the sweet golden nectar we all know and love. Along with the other pollinating insects, bees are responsible for roughly one-third of the world’s food supply. But for the last decade, bee populations have been declining at an alarming rate. Thankfully, there are easy ways we can support our busy friends—like planting a bee garden!
When worker bees collect sugar from flowers to produce their honey, they are also transferring pollen from one place to the next—thus pollinating. Without pollination, plants won’t survive, making bees and other pollinating insects crucial for the successful growth of popular crops, such as potatoes, apples, blueberries, almonds, and many more.
Since 2007, scientists have worked tirelessly to reverse the detrimental effects of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), and determined causes ranging from climate change and habitat loss, to pests, pathogens, and mites.
When planting a bee-conscientious garden, you’re providing bees with a small habitat—a haven—to eat, pollinate, grow, and live in peace. The flowers and vegetation in the garden adds to the shrinking supply of flower-rich habitats needed to keep bees alive. And happy bees make for a flourishing garden!
How do I start?
Picking the most rewarding plants for the bees is very important when planning your garden. While some bee species only work through the warmer seasons, others work year-round, so to ensure you have blooms through every season, include at least three different types of plants in your garden. Native and wild flowers have more nutritious pollen than other exotic types, and are low-maintenance, requiring less water, fertilizer, and harmful pesticides.
Some bee-favorite flowers to enjoy in the summer are purple cone flowers, sunflowers, black-eyed Susan’s, yarrow, and mint. Asters, goldenrods, and joe-pye weeds are perennial plants that can be enjoyed through the fall and are perfect for supplying bees with all the pollen and nectar they need in the colder months.
However, planting pretty flowers is not enough to support bees over an extended period. If you want to keep the bees around you must meet their basic needs, like nutrition, hydration, and safety. Like all living creatures, bees need water to survive. Consider adding a bird bath or a pond, even a dripping faucet will help to keep the bees hydrated and hard at work. Keep the pollinators safe from the elements, pesticides, and parasites with a bee bunker. Bee bunkers are small wooden hiding spots that can be found at most home improvement stores, or you can build one yourself!
Bees are indispensable to our ecosystem and everyday life, so let’s show our appreciation and do our part to save the bees!