Tips on Planting a Bee-Friendly Garden
Gardeners know that bees are some of the most important pollinators in our environment. In recent years, however, there has been a steady decline in bee populations due to loss of habitat and overuse of pesticides and herbicides. While honeybees are at the top of the list in terms of being threatened, they are not the only bees that are crucial in pollination. There are over 4,000 species of native bees in the United States, all with varying appearances, lifestyles, and foraging needs. If a homeowner has planted the right pollinator plants, he should expect to see a nice variety of bees in his garden throughout the season. Do your part to help the ecosystem this season and add some bee-friendly plants to your yard or garden. In order to reverse the decline in the bee population, follow these tips to create a friendly habitat to attract bees.
Designate an area for a natural yard
Replace part of your well-manicured lawn with flowering plants and don't worry about what the neighbors think. Flowering weeds, such as dandelions, clovers, chickweed, milkweed, and goldenrod are very important food sources for bees. Let the weeds grow and flower in your yard and you will soon have your own pollinator garden.
Plant flowers that are indigenous to your region. Bees love native wildflowers, flowering herbs, berries and many flowering fruits and vegetables. Even if you are short on space, a few wildflowers or herbs, like thyme and lavender, in a planter provide a nice foraging habitat for the honeybee.
Make it easy on the bee
Select single flower tops such as daisies and marigolds. Double headed flowers, such as double impatiens, produce less nectar and make it more difficult for bees to access pollen.
Pick plants with long blooming cycles, or choose plants with successive blooms. This way the bees will keep coming back again and again.
Build homes for solitary bees
Leave a sunny patch of the garden or yard uncultivated for solitary bees that burrow. Some solitary bees also need access to soil surface for nesting. For wood- and stem-nesting bees, this means piles of branches, hollow reeds, or nesting blocks made out of untreated wood. Some bees are attracted to weedy hedgerows, while mason bees need a source of water and mud.
Use natural pesticides and fertilizers
If at all possible, avoid using herbicides or pesticides in the garden. Ladybugs, spiders, and praying mantises do a good job of naturally keeping pest populations in check.
Create a bee bath
Like every other living creature, bees need access to fresh, clean water. Fill a shallow container of water with pebbles, twigs, or even wine corks, for the bees to land on while drinking. Make sure to keep fresh water in the container so the bees know they can return to the same spot every day.
Bees Love Small Spaces, Too
No room for a garden? You can use a window box, container garden, or rooftop garden to create an inviting oasis for bees. Every little bit can help to nurture bees and other pollinators.
If you like fresh flowers, fruit, and vegetables, you need to be concerned with the plight of the bees. Allow some of the flowering weeds to grow in your yard (remember when you thought dandelions were pretty?) and prepare an easy pollinator garden by simply planting the right flowers and herbs.