Did you know that around 75 percent of all flowering plants rely on animal pollinators and over 200,000 species of animals act as pollinators? Of those, 1,000 are hummingbirds, bats, and other small mammals. The rest are comprised of insects such as beetles, ants, wasps, butterflies, moths, and of course, bees. Over the past couple of decades, more focus has been brought to a phenomenon called Colony Collapse Disorder, a serious problem that threatens the health of honey bees. How does that affect us? About one in three mouthfuls of our daily diet directly or indirectly benefits from honey bee pollination!
In honor of National Pollinator Week, an initiative started in 2007 to increase the awareness of declining pollinator populations, we wanted to share some of our best bee-friendly gardening tips.
- Design your garden so that pollinators have a continuous access to flowering plants from spring to fall. Check with your local garden center for the best cultivars for your area.
- Avoid pesticides, even those labeled as ‘natural,’ as they repel helpful insects, too. Instead, try placing naturally-repellant plants throughout your garden to combat unwanted pests. A few to try are lavender, mint and thyme. You can also let nature control unwanted pests by encouraging birds, carnivorous insects and bats to make their homes nearby.
- Provide a clean water source, such as a birdbath or backyard water feature. To keep it from becoming a mosquito breeding ground, change out the water 2-3 times a week during the warmer weather.
- Many hummingbird-friendly plants are great for attracting bees as well. However, certain plants have flower shapes that bumblebees cannot access easily – those with petals that form long tunnels that are too long or narrow for bees to feed from. Additionally, flowers with multiple tightly packed flowers offer bees little to no accessible food.
- For the best bee-friendly results, select plants and flowers that have visible pollen or nectar that is easy to reach. Bees can see color with shades of blue being their most preferred.
These are just some of the ways you can make your garden more attractive to bees and other pollinators. Stop by Autumn Hill Nursery at our Woodstock or Canton location to learn more about the best flowers and plants to help bring the bees to your garden.
Photo via Flickr.