If you’ve taken the leap and decided to enjoy bees rather than fear them, then you’ll want to find ways to invite these buzzy little pollinators into your garden. The main reasons that bees aren’t doing so well is a lack of suitable, diverse food sources, the threat of pesticides, and a lack of habitat. You can help with both problems, simply by planting plants and adding bee homes to your yard.
Let’s address the food sources first. Bees visit flowers to gather nectar, and they also collect pollen as they go. They move this pollen from flower to flower as they feed, providing the vital role of pollination that is essential to a healthy garden. Unfortunately, bees have a hard time living in times of feast and famine. If they live in a place where a single flower blooms for a short time and then stops, then it’s hard for bees to maintain a long term home in that place. Imagine living beside a grocery store that was only open in April. That’s the problem that the bees have. This is why farmers now import bees to pollinate their fields, and this is why urban and suburban areas that have grass with few flowers and vegetables don’t have a lot of bees.
Feeding bees is a lovely, simple thing to do. Bees like flowers and we like flowers, so it’s also a beautiful thing to do. Children of any age can plan a bee garden and then enjoy the beeautiful results.
To plant a bee garden, work with your children to brainstorm a list of flowers, fruits, and vegetables that you love. Research what your local bees love to eat. You’ll want to make sure that the bees have something to eat over the course of the entire spring, summer, and early fall, so plan your flowers as if you were planning out a menu!
What are some great bee plants? Bee flowers generally have a flat area with an easy landing space for the bees.
Crocuses and daffodils are excellent early bee plants, and Pierus Japonica shrubs attract hundreds of mason bees. In the summer, comfrey will nourish your garden and attract bees galore, as will borage. In the vegetable and fruit world, beans and strawberries are simple crops for kids to grow, and they attract lots of bees. But truly, attracting bees is not hard. Simply plant a good diversity of crops that bloom throughout the season, and the bees will come.
Now, let’s talk about keeping the bees happy in your garden. Bees are insects. So are many of the bugs that eat your garden plants. If you’re trying to attract bees to your garden, it’s best to avoid pesticides altogether. If you must use pesticides, use natural pesticides that focus on a single pest. For example, you can deter slugs by using soil preparations, and these soil preparations will not hurt the bees. However, a garden that is brimming with diverse and healthy plants will play host to many natural predators, like birds. If you focus on building a healthy garden, the birds will eat your slugs, and you won’t need to do anything that could hurt the bees.
Image Credit: Cozgrl2005