The Importance of Pollinator Gardens
Honeybees make-up part of the 20,000 different types of bee species worldwide, 3,500 within the United States. There is also a large variety of flowers for bees to pollinate – from trees to vegetables, herbs and fruit plants to tall flowering types of foliage, bees and flowers are meant to be together.
The top 5 threats to bees include: climate change, pesticides, invasive species, disease and loss of habitat. (cited from the honey bee conservancy).
Many bees pollinate agricultural crops, which humans rely on for food. Over recent years, many have changed their production model to be mono-cultural crops, making it more difficult for bees to find pollen and nectar year-around. In addition to the use of pesticide, changes in climate and invasive species (like mites), bees are surviving, but their populations worldwide are still in decline.
Pollinators plants are flowering plants that attract bees by their color, smell or the nectar and pollen they offer. One way to counter these negative effects and improve the population is to create a pollinator garden. These are gardens that include a variety of flowers, plants, shrubs, trees, and vegetables that the bees can choose from.
To see a great list of flowers to plant for any season, click here.
- Plant things that produce food, pollen and nectar.
- During the changing of seasons, plant herbs, flowers or vegetables that flower either all season long or at a different time than other plants, so bees will continue to visit all year around.
- Get to know the climate of your garden. This includes where the sun and shade are doing certain times of the year, which areas flood or are prone to dry spells.
- Make sure the seeds you plant can co-exist in your microclimate.
- List the bloom times of the plants and flowers in your calendar.
- Raise beds when possible to avoid flooding.
- Add compost in dryer areas.
- Cluster type flowers are the best type of bee attractors.
- Provide a water source. Put rocks, stones and pebbles in the water source so the bees have good landing and footing.
- Choose heirloom varieties over hybrids. They offer more insect pollen and nectar.
- Plant large bunches or batches when possible. With air pollution killing scent trails, this helps the honey bees find their scent trail back to the flowers.
For a great list of bee attracting annuals, click here.
For a list of perennials that honey bees love, click here.
As you can see there are lots of options. Grab the kids, put your gloves on and help our friends out!
And join the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge!
Some Pollinator Mixes and Resources:
Or plant trees!