Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What's all the buzz about bees?


Back when I worked at one of the local garden centers, I was often approached with this request from customers: "I want a bush that flowers which doesn't attract bees".  There are good reasons for wanting a plant that doesn't attract bees but for there are many more reasons to attract them.  According to the Garden Media Garden Trends of 2014:

·         one out of three bites of food come from plants pollinated by honeybees and other pollinators

·         1/3 of all honeybee colonies in this country are gone

·         Pollinators help 70% of the world's flowering plants to reproduce

bee buzzing in the caryopertisBees rely on flowers to supply them with food. Different bees need different flowers. Double headed flower such as double impatiens do not produce as much nectar and are more difficult for the bees to access the pollen. Single flower tops such as daisies, honeysuckle, monarda, tulips are more bee friendly.  Plant your flowers in clumps versus a plant here, a plant there.  Also, planning for the whole bloom season will help ensure that our bee population thrives. 
 Spring flowering plants include: Crocus, Hyacinth, Tulips

Summer flowering plants include:  Monarda, Echinacea, Foxglove, Hosta, Buddleia, Daisies, Salvia, Catmint, Rudbeckia, Honeysuckle, Caryopteris

Fall flowering plants include: Sedum, Aster, Goldenrod

Other things we can do to promote bee populations are to leave uncultivated sunny spots in the yard for ground dwelling bees. Piles of branches, dead trees, untreated wood, and bee houses/condos attract other variety of bees. 

Avoid using pesticides and herbicides. Use an Integrated Pest Management program instead.  Also, provide a fresh source of water.  A shallow bowl filled with twigs, stones and water will work. Just be sure to change the water on a daily basis.

If you are worried about being stung and really who isn't worried about that? I've managed to be stung several times while out working in the yard. One day I stuck a fork into the soil as I weeded and I hit a ground bee nest.  Whoops!  One time I put my hand on the garden gate without looking and my hand landed on a bee. The last time I was weeding along the slated fence, put both hands on the fence to get up and disturbed a small nest. Both hands swelled up like balloons. Bees generally do not sting unless the nest is disturbed, they are stepped on or rough handled.  They don't sting very often when they are foraging. 
Just remember we need bees to ensure that our garden plants, ornamentals, wildflowers and food crops receive adequate pollination.

Kate Williams, Sales Representative, Loma Vista Nursery

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