Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Growing a Bee Garden

Guest Blog written by Christy Erickson from Saving Our Bees

These Tips Will Make You Want to Start Your Bee Garden Tomorrow
Bees and their colonies have been disappearing due to a disease-driven phenomenon called Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD. Preventing CCD’s spread is imperative in preserving the world’s managed bee populations, which play a critical role in global crop production.
(Photo via Pixabay)
However, scientists must not be left alone in the quest to promote unification and further pollination among the bee population. As individuals, it is possible to reap the financial and health benefits that are associated with gardening while also combating the disappearance of the bee.
Why Bees are Important
The role that bees play in the production of foods regularly consumed by humans is nothing short of immense. Bees provide their benefit to humans through cross-pollination, also referred to as allogamy. Cross-pollination is defined as ‘the transfer of pollen from the flower of one plant to the flower of a plant having a different genetic constitution.’ This process is principally responsible for the successful harvest of 30% of the world’s crops and 90% of wild plants.
It is estimated that one-third of food production depends on bees’ pollination, so it is clear to see why keeping bees around is a high priority for conservationists. With over 70 different types of crops - and even more species of flowers - dependent on pollinators to survive, there are ample options when deciding what to plant in your bee garden.
Bee Gardening: A Strategic Approach

Planting a garden with the aim of attracting bees has benefits which are twofold. Gardeners reap the benefits of cross-pollination, with bees’ transport of pollen between crops and flowers promoting the overall health of your personal ecosystem. The bees, in turn, extract nectar and pollen from flowers, using these substances as sustenance. It truly is a two-way street, so it is a wonder that more gardeners do not employ tactics meant to keep bees present year-round.
Experts recommend variety of species and the planting of native flowers and crops as the basis of any successful bee garden. The aim is to attract bees already in your garden’s vicinity, which means that these native bees must be lured by native plants. The local nursery or botanical garden will have information about which plants are native to your respective climate and region, so use this advice as a guide when shopping for seeds and flowers.
Certain features make flowers particularly attractive to bees, including ones yellow, purple, or blue in shade. Bees see the world in an ultra-violet spectrum, meaning that flowers with red as a primary color are less likely to be visited by bees, while flowers in the colors indicated appear remarkably vibrant, leading bees to visit them with more frequency.
In order to attract smaller bees, daisy, marigold, butterfly weed, valerian, buttercup, aster, yarrow and Queen Anne’s lace are most likely to do the trick. Larger bees prefer plants such as delphinium, larkspur, columbine, monkshood and snapdragon. Meanwhile, long-tongued bees tend to be attracted to an array of herbs.
Be strategic by planting flowers and vegetables which provide nectar and pollen year-round. Different species bloom at differing times of year, and providing bees with a constant source of food increases the chance that they will return to your garden.
Lastly, bees require a water source, so ensure that you have some form of puddling mechanism, rendering your garden as the one-stop-shop for pollinating bees looking for food and drink.

Bees serve a greater purpose than many humans understand. As pollinators, their role in the production of food to be consumed by humans is a critical one. It does not take much effort to plant a garden that will attract and feed bees, and the benefits to the gardener are well worth employing a strategy to attract these valuable insects. If you were already planning or have a garden, employ these minor tweaks to make it a buzzing ground for our winged friends.

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