As summer ends the bees are busier than ever searching for winter stores. If you have planted flowers that attract bees you no doubt are noticing the fever of activity in your blooms. At our farm we have a small apiary that my husband tends to with loving care. Bees actually become pets, believe it or not.
Bees have been in the news a lot lately, what with hive collapse disorder and all. I think many of us don’t realize the importance that bees are to our food chain and ultimately to our survival. About 30% of our food supply comes from pollination. Pollination is required for fertilization and fertilization allows the flower to develop seeds. In other words no bees means no pollinations which means no fruit resulting in no seeds.
How Gardeners can help Bees:
- Never use pesticides and insecticides in your garden. You kill the bees too.
- Never use herbicides such as weed killers. These toxins are harmful to the bees and will keep the bees from visiting your garden. Garden using organic meathods of pest and weed control.
- Provide a shallow source of water as bees need to drink too.
- Grow bee friendly plants. Welcoming bees into your yard with bee plants is easy and bees go about their business quietly and are not a bother to the gardener. If you feel uncomfortable around them, just place your plants for bees away from sitting or play areas. You will soon discover however that bees are not interested in you. They are far too busy with the tasks at hand.
Bees gather nectar and pollen which enables the plant to reproduce. The pollen feeds the baby bees and the nectar is turned into honey to feed the colony and spoil us. Many trees and shrubs are sources of pollen and nectar but so are many flowers. Some weeds are also a great source such as dandelions, clover and vetch.
Most of the bee friendly plants are common and easy to grow. Below is a list of some that are worth trying in your garden, bees and plants go together.
Flowers to Attract Bees (plants bees love)
Aster – there are varieties that bloom from spring to fall
Sunflower – easy to grow from seed and kids love them
Salvia & Sage – wonderful range of colors from white, to blue, purple and pinks
Bee Balm – true to its name
Mint – good for drying and making tea as well
Hyssop – Leaves smell like licorice when bruised
Pulsatilla – an excellent spring bloomer
Thyme – great herb for cooking too
Poppy – many will self seed in future years
Bachelor’s button – found as annuals or perennials, sometimes called cornflowers
Nepeta – the cat mint family, bees go crazy for these
Lavender – great for crafts and drying
Sedum – wonderful plants for the fall garden
Russian Sage – useful as a small shrub
Phacelia – can become a busy self seeder, best for larger plots
Joe Pye Weed – great tall specimen plant
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(some photos are from Pixabay)