Anyone who loves to garden and keep beautiful flowers or grow tasty fruits and veggies should know and understand the importance of bees (and other pollinators). Without pollination, there are many fruits and vegetables that would cease to exist (ie. squash, apples, raspberries, almonds, cucumbers, etc.). Pollinators are hugely important to anyone who keeps a garden or grows flowers and without a healthy population of pollinators (bees especially), a bountiful harvest is nonexistent.
There are many ways you can help out the bees and encourage the presence of pollinators around your home or garden.
- Don’t mow or pick the first crop of dandelions that pop up in the spring – for many bees, this is their only source of food until the larger flowering plants bloom a bit later in the season; if you do feel the need to pull those weeds, set out some bee candy so that the little guys have something to feed off of.
- Plant gardens and plants that attract and sufficiently feed bees and other pollinators. For those who prefer flowers, there are long lists of both annuals and perennials that are beneficial to bees (sunflowers, clover, poppies, goldenrod, lamb’s ear, foxglove, coneflower, etc.). For the edible gardeners, both vegetables and herbs can benefit the bees (tomato, okra, peppers, basil, mint, thyme, etc.). Bee friendly gardens encourage the presence of pollinators and can help improve your crops overall. See a fabulous list of bee-friendly plants and bee garden info here.
- Add in pollinator shelters. Simple shelters made of hollow sticks and twigs, or holes drilled into a 2×4 provide excellent shelters for pollinators such as mason bees, as well as other beneficial insects like ladybugs.
- Make bee baths. These shallow pools allow bees and other insects to drink without drowning in deep water. The shallower water also prevents mosquito infestation.
- Avoid using pesticides or other chemicals on your flower beds, garden, or lawn. If you normally have your lawn sprayed for weeds or use insecticides or other pesticides on your flower beds, stop it! Let the clover and dandelions bloom and mow them down instead of using a spray. Chemicals are a HUGE threat to natural bee and pollinator populations around the world. Even sprays meant for other species can kill our bees.
- If you’re buying honey, try and buy it locally. This supports bee-keepers and apiaries in your area. You never know, the honey you’re consuming could very well have been created from some plants in your back yard!
- If you have the space, buy a hive! If not, work with local bee-keepers to learn additional ways to help their bees. There is a lot of info online, as well as a Facebook group dedicated entirely to treatment free bee keeping. Having a hive does not mean you have to go balls-to-the-wall and buy a suit and harvest honey. While honey and beeswax are great bonuses, hives can often be kept nearly maintenance free. As with any other stock, there will be some work, but the benefits to your garden and plants will be great!
*Disclaimer – I am no bee expert, I do not keep an apiary, I am simply a gardener who knows the value of good pollinators*
**all photos from a good friend, Miss Flo Love, who is an avid bee-keeper**