Every garden needs pollinators to help flowers, fruits, and vegetables grow, and bees are among the best. Declining bee populations are putting our agricultural food supply at risk by causing a major environmental imbalance. Chemical pesticides and herbicides are suspected to play a major role in the decline of these beneficial bees. Create a bee-friendly atmosphere in your garden and help reverse the dwindling bee population!
1. Create an Alluring Environment
Bees are attracted to vibrant colors – the brighter, the better. While any bright-colored flower will do, bees are particularly fond of yellows, purples, blues, and whites. Bees see colors on the blue end of the spectrum, meaning they cannot distinguish reds. In addition to achieving a diverse color palette, your garden should also feature plants in clusters. Large groupings of flowers will attract more bees than flowers that are spaced out. Heather, rockcress, and English lavender are all great options for cluster blooms.
2. Incorporate Native Plants
Use native plants in addition to ornamentals in your garden, as bees will be more attracted to familiar plants. The bright color of bluebells is nearly irresistible to bees that depend on the flowers’ nectar during early spring. Other richly colored flowers, such as hellebores, forget-me-nots, and pulmonarias, provide sufficient nectar for the buzzing insects. Some types of plants, such as crocuses, act as an important source of food for bees after the winter.
3. Opt for Non-Toxic Organic Gardening
Non-organic chemicals are unnecessary in the garden and can kill beneficial insects like bees. Opt for non-toxic forms of pest control that will target “bad” insects while allowing “good” insects like bees to roam. Some plants give off natural odors that can repel pests or may have volatile oils that many insects find unpleasant. Concoctions made from these plants can be used to deter bad bugs. Natural vegetable-based detergents and soaps used in small amounts can also ward off some insects.
4. Cut Down on the Mulch
Many gardeners choose to use mulch in their gardens to retain moisture. Since bees prefer to nest in bare mud, too much mulch can result in nesting problems. Leave some bare patches of earth in your garden for bees to nest. If the weather is dry, provide the bees with a shallow pan of mud, preferably mud made from clay soil. Some gardeners choose to build wooden bee houses to promote healthy populations of bees in and around their gardens.
5. Provide Bees with Food and Water
Like all living things, bees need food and water sources to thrive. Bees adore various flowering vegetable and fruit plants, including melons, berries, cucumbers, squash, and fruit trees. Certain herbs are also attractive to bees, such as catnip, mint, fennel, borage, lavender, rosemary, thyme, sage, and bee balm. If your home is not close to a lake, river, or other source of water, provide the insects with a bee bath. Most bees have trouble using birdbaths, and therefore, a wide, shallow tray or dish lined with flat rocks can provide these buzzing creatures with access to water.