Whenever I am adding a new garden to the landscape in Southern California or where ever the garden path leads me I am thinking of the environment and how the new plants that are being brought in and installed can help effect change in a positive way. Choosing plants with intention from drought tolerant to food, not only for people but for butterflies, humming birds and bees. We live in a symbiotic relationship with nature and if we can learn to nurture nature then this little intentional thought and action can begin to help on a larger scale.
I have pulled together some information on Bees and their role in nature. They are a vital link to our food source and with out them we could be in great danger of loosing a bounty of produce.
More and more gardeners are anxious to do their part to help the bees by adding to the shrinking inventory of flower-rich habitat in their area. You can create a ‘bee garden’. 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. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind as you grow your bee garden:
SELECT SINGLE FLOWER TOPS FOR YOUR BEE GARDEN
…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.
SKIP THE HIGHLY HYBRIDIZED PLANTS
…which have been bred not to seed and thus produce very little pollen for bees.
PLAN FOR BLOOMS SEASON-ROUND
Plant at least three different types of flowers in your bee garden to ensure blooms through as many seasons as possible. This will provide bees and other pollinators with a constant source of food. For example:
Crocus, hyacinth, borage, calendula, and wild lilac provide enticing spring blooms.
Bees feast on bee balm, cosmos, echinacea, snapdragons foxglove, and hosta in the summer.
For fall, zinnias, sedum, asters, witch hazel and goldenrod are late bloomers that will tempt foragers.
Click here for a guest blog post by The Gardener’s Eden on container gardening with herbs and edible flowers for honeybees and their human friends.
BUILD HOMES FOR NATIVE BEES
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. Mason bees need a source of water and mud, and many kinds of bees are attracted to weedy, untended hedgerows.
ONLY USE NATURAL PESTICIDES AND FERTILIZERS
Avoid using herbicides or pesticides in the bee garden. They not only can be toxic to bees but also are best not introduced to children or adults that visit your garden. Ladybugs, spiders, and praying mantises will naturally keep pest populations in check.
CREATE A “BEE BATH”
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. Make sure to maintain the container full of fresh water to ensure that they know they can return to the same spot every day.
LIVE IN A HOME WITHOUT A GARDEN?
You need only a small plot of land—it can even be a window container or rooftop—to create an inviting oasis for bees. Every little bit can help to nurture bees and other pollinators.
Now, Droege and York University biology professor Laurence Packer have compiled some of these stunning images, along with detailed descriptions of more than 100 species, into Bees: An Up-Close Look at Pollinators Around the World.
This book, however, is just a teaser of what’s out there; we have more than 20,000 species of bees to thank for pollinating wild plants and cultivated crops worldwide. Now that’s definitely worth a closer look.
photos are from google images and Nadine Artemis of Living Libations
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