Though they have always been important, bees have shifted in the public perception in recent years. Climate change, loss of habitat, and use of harmful broad-spectrum pesticides have resulted in the near extinction of bees globally. Environmentalists and educators alike have been yelling from the rooftops that bees are critical to our survival. This is not a matter of whether or not we have honey, however. Bees are necessary for the pollination of countless crops upon which we rely for sustenance. Although researchers have experimented with pollinating the plants themselves, all attempts have failed – proving that without our bees, these crops would die out. Therefore, it is in the best interest of both the insects and humans to attract bees to our yards and gardens.
Did You Know? Melons (watermelon, cantaloupe), gourds (pumpkins, squash), cucumbers, eggplants, almonds and cherries all need bees to pollinate them.
Gardening Tips to Attract Bees
Here are 5 ways to make your vegetable garden more enticing.
- Use only selective pesticides. Pesticides are useful tools to protect your vegetables from harmful predators that will limit or ruin the crop. However, it is important to identify which insect is causing detriment to your vegetables so that you can develop a plan specific for that species. If you apply a broad-spectrum pesticide, the chemical will kill and deter all insects – both good and bad. Pesticides that come as microcapsules pose a particular threat to bees, as worker bees can carry a capsule back to the hive and destroy the entire colony. Apply species-specific pesticides in liquid form to avoid harming bee colonies.
- Plant flowers in and around the vegetables. While vegetable flowers attract bees on their own, growing flowers that bloom throughout the year will ensure that your local bees know your garden is the place to be! Bees will continue to visit your yard throughout the growing season regardless of whether your vegetables are currently blooming or not, so long as you have other blossoms.
- Variety is key. Grow a diversity of vegetables, and plant many kinds of flowers nearby as well. Shades of blue, violet, and yellow attract bees best, as the insects see these colors most brightly in their visible spectrum. Differing heights, shapes, and sizes will also help attract bees.
- Plant in clumps. Clusters of a single variety of plants are more likely to attract pollinators than spaced out plants. Having clusters provides a larger target for pollinator species of all kinds, including bees. Plant multiple clumps so that you have many “targets” for to attract bees to your specific garden.
- Create a native bee shelter. The majority of our native bees do not live in stereotypical “hives”. Instead, many bees are solitary and live on or near the ground. You can easily create a shelter for these bees to use that will not only attract them to your yard, but keep them there. Our native bees live in small cavities in the ground or wood. A “bee bundle” of 8” long bamboo pieces zip-tied together and placed facing southeast will make a happy home for local bees.
Fast Fact: Solitary bees are non-aggressive. Some don’t have stingers to begin with, and the rest will only sting if grabbed or stepped on.
At Big Earth Landscape SupplyBig Earth Landscape SupplyBig Earth Landscape Supply, we are committed to helping you to cultivate a lush lawn, and a thriving garden. When it comes to beautifying your property, you won’t find better gardening products, materials and tools than at one of our 4 area locations. Shop online today, and get started on your next gardening project.