Bees are gentle creatures that help pollinate our flowers, fruits and vegetables, yet many people are reluctant to invite bees into their gardens. Most bees simply search out food and water to keep their populations going and ignore people. Bees only sting when defending their lives. Encouraging bees into our gardens is increasingly important as their numbers decline rapidly worldwide; bees pollinate about 1/3 of our food crops. Create a bee garden to keep their populations flourishing!
Feed the bees – they rely on your blooms for their food source
- Bees rely on your blooms for their food source.
- Nectar is loaded with sugars that provide bees with energy
- Pollen provides a balanced diet of proteins and fats
- For maximum bee benefit, stay away from hybrids and stick to single flowers; double flowers produce less nectar
- Two great sources of food that can be planted in September and October for the winter as cover crops are Crimson Clover (Trifolium incarnatum) and Buckwheat (Fagopyrum spp.)
Choosing the right plants for your bee haven…
- Keep in mind…
- Cluster plants together; bees forage in groups
- Try to incorporate about 15 long blooming bee plants – plants that flower during each season
Water – bees love it and need it!
- Bees rely on easy-to-reach water sources for hydration and to cool down their hive.
- Create and maintain a bee pool: a shallow saucer with rocks will provide a safe landing site
- Add a little salt – a pinch of salt in the water will not only attract the bees to the water spot, it is needed in their diet
Habitat – where do bees go?
Bees typically have hives or nest in the ground. Many seek temporary shelter in holes or crevices, but ground nesting bees need exposed soil. While mulching is a great option for water conservation, be mindful to leave some soil exposed so bees can access potential homes.
When using even the safest of pesticides bees can still be harmed by pesticides and fungicides and will ultimately damage the hive. The following guidelines will help minimize pesticide impact to bees and other wildlife:
- Do not spray on windy days to limit overspray
- Never spray open flowers – spray just before bud break
- Spray at dawn, dusk or at night when bees are less active
- Systemic insecticides translocate to flowers and can harm pollinators
And finally, bee happy!
Enjoy the soothing, subtle buzz of contented bees on a warm afternoon. You will find that your safe and lovely bee habitat will in turn bring abundant flowers, fruits and vegetables to your garden.
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