Homes for Bees: Creating a Bee-eautiful Garden


This summer, I’m teaching kids about pollinators. I love pollinators. So do you, even though you may not realize it. A third of what you eat is a product of a pollinator. Fruits and many things that we call vegetables were pollinated by a bee, a butterfly, or another creature that fertilized the flower and allowed that fruit to grow.

If you have a garden at home, you need pollinators too. Even if you don’t have a garden, there’s a whole world out there that needs pollinating! Pollinator populations are dropping rapidly, since urban development has taken away wild sources of pollen, and our penchant for getting rid of bugs has killed wild bee populations.

To raise bees in your garden or to attract bees to your garden, you don’t need much. Try the following ideas, and you’ll create a garden that’s buzzing with activity.

Go wild. Let a corner of your garden overflow with an abundance of wildflowers.

Something’s rotten? Install old slices of logs, rock piles, and wood piles to provide homes for insects such as bees.

Create sources of water and mud. Muddy, wet gardens are perfect for mason bees, who need mud to create their nests. All pollinators need good sources of water, too.

Provide food plants for butterflies, such as thistles and milkweed.

Use alternatives to pesticides. Pesticides kill all insects, both the good and the bad. Get more selective. Grow a diversity of crops to avoid a massive pest invasion. Attract birds. They will remove bugs for you at no cost at all.

Give bees a home. If you’re feeling ambitious, look at the potential for beekeeping in your area. If you’re feeling somewhat less ambitious but still want to provide a home for some bees, create a mason bee home out of nesting tubes.