You don’t need to have a backyard apiary to be concerned about having enough honeybees in your garden or yard. Almost one-third of plants, from your flowering bushes to your backyard herb garden, are pollinated by bees. Some flowers even need particular kinds of bees for effective pollination and those bees in turn need the nectar from those specific types of flowers. However, as we build more cities and suburbs, we are depriving bees of their natural habitat and food sources. As city dwellers, there are things we can do to make our yards more inviting to bees, and help our own curb appeal in the process!
Please keep in mind, that if you or any member of your family are allergic to bee stings, attracting bees to your property may not be in your best interest. Support your local beekeepers instead by purchasing local honey and honey products.
Bee Friendly Flowers
Purple Coneflowers, Black Eyed Susans, Hyssop and Horseflower are some favorites flowers of honey bees, and they are known to attract butterflies as well. Mixed together in a flower bed they create a beautiful wild flower display, while attracting natural pollinators. The rest of your garden will benefit from the bees, and you’ll have a beautiful floral backdrop throughout spring and summer. Whichever flowers you choose, keep in mind that bees are naturally attracted to the colors blue, purple and yellow.
Remember Your Fruits and Veggies
Consider planting flowering fruits and vegetables such as strawberries, tomatoes and zucchini. If you have the room, apple trees, and other fruit trees that blossom before bearing fruit are also great for attracting bees. You get fresh fruits and vegetables to eat, and the bees get a wonderful source of nectar.
Avoid using herbicides or pesticides in the bee garden, and preferably throughout your yard. They not only can be toxic to bees but are often unnecessary. Ladybugs, spiders, and praying mantises are all natural pest killers that are attracted to the same plants as bees. Certain herbs, such as mint and basil, can be planted along with your other garden plants to naturally repel bugs.
Believe it or not, bees get dehydrated just like people do! They need a place to get fresh, clean water while they are doing the busy work of pollinating. Fill a shallow container of water with pebbles or twigs for the bees to land on while drinking and place in your garden, or better yet, keep a garden fountain going. Fountains mean the water will be continually circulated cutting down on mosquitoes, so if you are using a container, make sure to refresh the water often. Bird baths tend to be too deep for bees, so give them their own personal bathing spot.
Spread the Word
Many people, especially children, are fearful of bees, assuming that all will aggressively sting. However, honey bees rarely sting unless they feel threatened. Teach children not to kill or swat at bees, and to instead allow them sniff around and feed as they like. Teach them the “bee golden rule” – if you leave them alone, they will leave you alone!