Spring is finally here! Not just on the calendar, but in my garden. The bees have arrived! While walking out to my garden yesterday, I had to be careful not to step on all the bees flying around the white clover in my yard. (The picture above was taken next to my turnip bed.) I had no problem with lack of bees in my garden last year, and I believe I’ll have no problem this year either. However, some of my friends were forced to hand pollinate their gardens last year in order to get fruit because they had no bees. With many farmers and gardeners suffering from the decrease in bee populations due to disease, we must become more purposeful in attracting these masterful pollinators to our crops.
Everyone knows that bees visit flowers to collect pollen to make honey, but did you know they are drawn to certain flowers more than others? Planting those types of flowers are sure to draw the bees to your yard, where they will then find your garden!
- It’s important to draw the bees to your garden or yard early in the season so that the local hives will know where you are. To do that, you’re going to have to allow things to grow that are usually considered weeds. Dandelions and white clover are fantastic early bloomers for drawing the bees. Let the dandelions grow until they are about to go to seed, then remove. (Never use pesticides/insecticides as these could kill the bees.) As for clover, I let it grow throughout the year – not only to draw the bees, but also to add more nitrogen to my compost pile when I put the yard clippings into it.
- Plant single-bloom flowers, not the double-bloom hybrids. Bees find it too difficult to reach the pollen inside double-bloom flowers.
- Bees love flowers that are blue, purple, or yellow. I happen to love blue and purple flowers – more so than the yellow ones. But I do plant French marigolds inside my garden beds, because they not only keep pests away from my tomatoes, but they also draw the bees (as well as butterflies).
- Plant a variety of flowers so you have something blooming throughout the season. Although some bees are active only in the spring, some are active until the cold weather arrives.
- Plant wild flowers and native species to your area. Local bees are familiar with your area’s native plants and are drawn more to what they know.
- Grow several plants of each variety of flower, planted together, so the bees can easily flit from one bloom to another.
I found a great site that will give you a free pollinator guide for your area based on your entered zip code. Print the chart included in the pollinator guide and take it to your local nursery to get the suggested native flowers to plant in your garden.
It’s just that easy! With a beautiful botanical invitation to the bees, your garden will soon be buzzing with pollinating activity!
Enjoy your bees!