You can transform your garden into a honey bee paradise with careful planning and a few smart choices. Adding appropriate plants and landscaping will help the bees flourish through the seasons, even as winter approaches.
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By offering consistent sources of pollen, bees will routinely visit your garden until winter. The Honey Bee Conservancy has these great tips for helping these important pollinators:
- Plant native flowers. Find out what flowering plants are native to your area. They will be particularly hardy and draw local bees. Contact your local extension office for good choices in your growing area.
- Single flowers. Single, simple flowerheads will produce more pollen than more elaborate flowerheads. For a bonus, plan on perennial plants which come back year after year.
- Some great fall-blooming choices with single blooms would be:
- Black-eyed Susan
- Japanese Anemone
- Keep blooms coming. Think about when individual plants flower. Plan for blooms from early spring through late fall. For example, offer crocuses in spring, cosmos in summer, and sedum in the fall. HoneyLove has a handy list of plants that draw bees and their bloom times.
- Consider containers. If you don’t have a full size garden, even container gardening helps bees. Follow the same guidelines for selecting your plants.
In addition to flowers, there are other things you can do for bees to keep them happy in your garden. Here are some important points to consider:
- Avoid chemicals. Skip the chemical pesticides because they often kill good bugs in addition to pests.
- Thirsty bees. Offering a water source to bees will draw them to your garden. Allow a few shallow mud puddles to be available for the bees. This way the bees will get salt and minerals from the soil when they drink.
Add trees and shrubs
Adding a few well-chosen trees and shrubs to your landscape provides interest throughout the year. Those same plants can also assist in drawing bees to your garden. Here are some selections that will both look fabulous through the seasons and offer food for the bees.
- Hydrangeas. Consider including hydrangeas in your landscape as a plant that is attractive year round. Professionals explain that these shrubs are easy to grow and typically begin blooming in early spring and keep going into late summer. When the growing season is winding down they maintain their sturdy blooms throughout the winter months, providing beautiful texture and interest.
- Pagoda dogwoods. Experts note that pagoda dogwoods are an especially nice tree for specimen planting. They are worthy as a focal point because they lend interest to the garden all year. These small, ornamental trees have an elegant, asymmetrical branch growth. Pagoda dogwoods have flowers in spring followed by bluish-black berries in summer. Leaves are dark green and turn yellow or red in the fall. When the foliage drops the graceful form of the tree gives winter interest in the garden.
- Ninebarks. Ninebarks offer attractive foliage in a variety of colors, depending on the cultivar. Their springtime blooms attract bees and other pollinators. Leaves typically turn brilliant colors in fall, then drop to reveal the peeling bark which gives the plant its name. Experts note that this shrub is easy to maintain and is drought tolerant once established.
Your haven for the honey bees
By making some simple additions to your garden this fall, you can keep bees coming throughout the growing seasons. Plant flowers that will blossom in spring, summer and fall. Remember to also help bees by avoiding chemicals and offering them a water source. Adding well-chosen trees and shrubs can provide food for bees and bonus beauty in winter. By incorporating these simple tips, your garden will be a haven for the honey bees.