5 ways to plant a bee-friendly garden

Picture a world without delicious cashews, sweet apples or fragrant flowers…

This is a reality we could be faced with if we don’t protect our most vital pollinator – BEES.

NO BEES = NO FRUIT, VEGETABLES OR NUTS

The Honey Bee Conservancy says:

1 in 3 bites of food we eat depends entirely on BEes,

and they’re dying at alarming rates.

We rounded up 5 WAYS for you to do your part to keep our planet brimming with bees – by creating a garden that’s BEE-FRIENDLY.

1. Plant blooms for the bees

Before you pick out your seeds or seedlings at the garden center, do a little research on what flowers are indigenous to your region. Bees just so happen to love native wildflowers, flowering herbs and many fruits and vegetables that flower. Even if you don’t have a bed to devote to a garden, herbs like thyme and lavender planted in a small pot make for a nice foraging spot.

 

Choose blooms that are single head, like daisies and marigolds, instead of double headed ones. The latter produce less nectar and their structure makes it trickier for bees to get to the pollen.

The Honey Bee Conservancy suggests that you think year round so the bees always have something to snack on. In the spring, hyacinth, calendula and lilac work well. Come summer, envision lush patches of bee balm, snapdragons and cosmos. Late bloomers like zinnias, echinacea and goldenrod will attract honey bees to your yard in the fall.

2. Let things “bee”

If you’re working with a lawn (however small!), don’t be afraid to let things get a little wild. Those classic flowering weeds you always see in the spring and summer, like dandelions, clovers and goldenrod, are scrumptious choices for hungry bees. If you can lengthen the time between mowing the lawn, low-growing law flowers like clover and daisies will be able to flower longer. Honey bees go wild for pollen and nectar-rich dandelions.

3. draw a bee bath

Bees need hydration, just like we do, and they happen to love it. Set out a shallow vessel of water with some pebbles or sticks for the bees to set on while getting a drink. Keep the container in the same spot – and refill it with fresh water as needed. The bees will be buzzing with glee.

4. control pests naturally

Leave the herbicides and pesticides out of the garden – they’re highly toxic to bees, and can disrupt the flow of wildlife and the food chain. Did you know that ladybugs and spiders are natural pest deterrents? Don’t kill that big spider! Other good natural pest control options are netting, regular hoeing and mulching.

 

5. Build homes for native bees

The bees need somewhere to rest. Natural nesting spots range from small hole left by other animals, to thick tufts of grass. If you come across a bee nest, let it be! You can also take matters into your own hands: buy a bee hotel for the bumble and loner bees in your realm, or, build your own by drilling different sized holes (between 2mm and 10mm) into a block of untreated wood. Just make sure to set your bee hotel in a protected location, away from where winter weather is most severe. Mason bees prefer a home made of water and mud. Wood and stem nesting bees like piles of branches. Consider supporting the Honey Bee Conservancy’s Sponsor-a-Hive program, which places isolated bee homes (and honey bee hives) in school and community gardens across the nation.