Making An Effort To Help The Bees: Providing Support Beyond Flowering Basics:
If you are anxious to support the struggling bees in your area by providing a pollinator-friendly garden, you should do some planning beyond just planting bright spring and summer blossoms. Bees are vital to our environment due to their impact on both flowering plants and food production, and you can help them thrive via some adjustments to your own personal garden. They need support year-round and incorporating some other planning aspects can make your yard a haven for these useful insects.
Bees embrace more than just flowers
If you are a beginner when it comes to orchestrating a bee-friendly garden, remember to plant trees and shrubs that will also attract these insects. As Buzz About Bees explains, these provide valuable nesting opportunities for bees. These insects will often use crevices, holes, hollows, and fallen leaves for their nests, and these plants provide great foraging possibilities. Cherry trees, mountain ash, American lilac, pussy willows, winter honeysuckle, and bleeding hearts all typically attract bees, as do sycamore, hydrangeas, ivy, and apple, or pear trees.
Herbs can be a great addition to any garden area and many are quite bee-friendly. The Organic Authority suggests planting thyme, rosemary, sage, and mint, and oftentimes basil, cilantro, fennel, lavender, and chamomile do well too. You can also consider planting clover, as this is an easy-to-maintain ground cover option that attracts bees. If you have mostly grass in your yard, let it grow long where you can to give bees some additional cover.
Formulate a year-round plan and rely on natural pest control
You can give bees a boost by incorporating options that will bloom throughout the fall and the winter if possible, depending on the weather in your area. Oregon Live recommends letting brassicas like mustard, cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli bloom into the winter, as bees will take full advantage of having these available. In addition, you can consider adding plants like heath, heather, hazelnut, witch hazel, sweet box, and winter jasmine to draw in the bees during these tougher foraging months.
What you plant in your garden is not the only important aspect of attracting bees. Pesticides are quite detrimental to these insects, so avoid them if you can. Insects like ladybugs, beetles, dragonflies, and hoverflies can help rid your garden of pests like aphids, so you may want to embrace them rather than chase them away. You can also try tricks like putting salt around the edge of the garden to keep out pests or applying corn gluten as a natural herbicide to weeds. Here are some good tips to follow when creating a home garden.
These insects need shelter support too
Bees also need shelter and many can use some extra help on this front. Leave some bare gravel or soil for those that nest in the ground and leave some dead branches or a pile of untreated wood out that bees can use to create a microhabitat for themselves. Another option is to drill holes into blocks of wood or dry logs for those species that prefer tunnels for nesting. If you are feeling ambitious, you can create a more sophisticated bee house or buy one to put in your garden.
There are many ways to support the bees as they battle for survival. In addition to planting bright flowers, incorporate bee-friendly shrubs, grasses, herbs, and trees into your yard and work on ways you can provide options throughout the colder months in addition to spring and summer. Avoid pesticides, relying on natural options instead, and look for opportunities to give bees some shelter in your garden too. Bees are an important part of our eco-system, so make some tweaks to your yard to help them during these trying times.
[Article by Christy Erickson]