Most people who have a yard or a garden do realize the important role that bees and other insects that pollinate have not only in their own gardens but for the entire environment. Without them our gardens would fail, our farmlands would fail. The importance of their role touches our lives on a daily basis. Just think about this, every three bites of food that we eat depends on one of these little pollinators. Some of the crops we receive every year such as apples, almonds, melons, citrus fruits, pears, plums, squash, pumpkins and so on all depend upon pollinators without them, we’d not be able to enjoy these fruits. So, it’s really important that anyone who gardens makes sure that their gardens are welcoming to bees and other insects that thrive on pollination.
It is sad to say however, that the pollinators in our world are in great peril. This just isn’t the honeybee. This includes bumblebees, carpenter bees, sweat bees, mason bees as well as leaf cutter bees. All of these bees are seeing a decline in their population and that can hurt all of us.
Many scientists believe that there are many reasons for the decline but the major causes are parasites, a variety of diseases and the exposure to our pesticides. Habitat loss is also another reason for a decline in bee populations.
As gardeners, we can help this situation out. If everyone who has a garden got together and took steps to increase the food supply and the habitat for these little pollinators imagine what an impact that would make. As a group, gardeners could add tens of thousands of acres of land for these little creatures to be able to call home. Not only is that a wonderful way to thank them for all they do but it’s very rewarding as a gardener and it’s actually very easy to accomplish!
Here are a few ways that we as gardeners can help our landscapes turn into pollinator heaven:
- Add diverse plantings to the landscape. We need to understand that different pollinators are going to be active at different times so we need to include plants that are going to bloom in the spring, summer and through the end of fall. This in turn will attract a wide variety of little pollinators to our gardens. Pick plants that have different heights as well. Try to include trees that flower as well as flowering shrubs and plants that grow a variety of flower sizes and shapes.
- Always make sure to plant native species in your gardens along with wildflowers. Wildflowers are important because both the wildflowers and the bees evolve together. Native wildflowers is one thing that will definitely provide wild bees with a great source of nectar and pollen.
- Sure everyone wants a perfectly neat yard. However, this kind of a landscape is not going to give our pollinators enough raw materials for them to make their hives and nests. So it’s always a good idea to provide a nesting habitat for them by saving back a small brush pile where there might be some dry grass, reeds and dead wood, this kind of an area will provide a great nesting area.
- Make sure to plant plenty of flowers that produce single flowers. These are flowers that have just one ring of petals. This type of flower actually offers the bees more pollen and nectar than the double petal flowers. Double flowers also are more difficult for bees to get to the inner part of the flower.
- Bees like certain colors so it’s a good idea to focus on those colors if you can. Some of their favorite colors are blue, purple and yellow. Also the flat or shallow blooms like daisies, asters and zinnias are going to attract the bigger bees. Those who have long tongues are going to be attracted to the mint family that include nepeta, oregano, salvia, lavender and mint. This kind of bee likes flowers that have hidden nectar spurs like flowers such as larkspur, monarda, columbine and even snapdragons.
- Do your best to avoid using pesticides on your flowers. Even if they say they are organic, it’s not a good idea to use them. These pesticides are simply toxic to bees and their fellow pollinators.
- You might even want to consider becoming a backyard beekeeper. You can do this by just having one or two beehives in your backyard and that should create enough bees to keep your garden blooming for years to come as well as getting a little bit of honey out of it at the same time.
List of Flowers Bees Absolute Love
• Anise Hyssop
• Butterfly Weed
• Bee Balm
• Black-eyed Susan
Consider getting involved outside of your own garden by joining the Pollinator Partnership. This is a group of people who teach awareness of the situation we find ourselves in and they sponsor the National Pollinator Week. Their website has tons of resources that include educational tools as well as educational activities. You can also join local gardening groups and native plant societies in your area to get more involved in a variety of volunteer opportunities. You can spread the word by visiting schools and starting community awareness programs as well. Anything that will help others understand the importance of bees and other pollinators in this world.
So the next time you are considering taking a fly swatter to that bee that’s buzzing around your head, think twice about it because you could just be taking food right out of your mouth as well as the mouths of your family.