You can help your garden and save the bees
Honey bees and other native bee populations have been experiencing decline due to loss of habitat, increased use of pesticides (especially Neonicotinoids), disease, and other baffling issues such as Colony Collapse Disorder. Why should we care? Bees, through pollination, are directly responsible for nearly one-third of all the food and beverages that we eat!
There are ways you can help!
1.) Plant bee-friendly flowering plants in your yard. Bees tend to like yellow, blue, purple, violet, and white flowers. Studies have shown that planting a flowering strip near your vegetable garden can increase the yield and even size of your produce. See the list of suggested plants below.
2.) Try to select multi-seasonal plants so that something is flowering in each season: spring, summer, and fall. Not only will this provide pollen for the bees to gather all season — it will also provide YOU with endless color and interest all season long.
3.) When possible, plant native species.
4.) Use good, organic gardening practices. Avoid using insecticides and other chemicals whenever possible. Limit usage to spot treatment of problems and spray after the sun goes down when bees are not out foraging.
5.) Give yourself permission to be a little bit messy. By leaving some areas of your yard a little bit messy, you provide needed habitat for native bees, which nest in uncovered, bare ground or inside old brush piles. Some weeds, like clover in your lawn, are an absolute bee favorite!
6.) Try a Bee Boarding House! Bet you didn’t know that 90% of bees do not live in hives! For more on Beneficial Insect Houses, talk to a Gasper associate in the Home & Garden Showplace.
7.) Bees need a good water source, too. Put some small stones in the edge of your birdbaths to help bees better access the water.
8.) Understand that bees are NOT out to get you! Bees (unlike wasps and yellow jackets) are vegetarian and will avoid stinging at all costs. Some species, such as mason bees and ground-nesting bee species, either do not sting at all, or are so non-aggressive that they rarely do. Stay still and calm around bees; avoid swatting or handling, and you are unlikely to be harmed.
9.) Support your local beekeepers by buying local honey!
10.) Bee-friendly gardens also benefit other beneficial bugs and pollinators such as butterflies and ladybugs. They are also more attractive to birds and other wildlife. Not least of all, they make our gardens a more habitable and welcoming place for ourselves, children, and pets!
Bee-friendly flowering plants
• Lagerstroemia (Crape Myrtles)
• Cornus (Dogwood)
• Fruit Trees (Malus, Prunus, Etc)
• Acer (Maples)
• Cercis (Redbud)
• Amelancier (Serviceberry)
• Salix (Willow)*
• Cornus (Dogwood)
• Salix (Pussy willow)
• Vaccinium (Blueberry)
• Asclepias (Milkweed)*
• Echinacea (Purple Coneflower)*
• Monarda (Bee Balm)*
• Paeonia (Peony)
*The Butterflies will also thank you
But for now, I’m in my garden
watching clouds sail with the breeze.
Feeling carefree as I listen
to the hum of bumblebees.
A world without them —
I dread to think what that would be.
I imagine my distress,
It would be a new kind of loneliness.