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By now, you’ve likely heard the bumbling news about bee populations. They are on the decline, and many species have been declared endangered. With the advent of chemical pesticides and the spreading of varroa mites, the future of bee life is worrisome. And, with the decrease in bees, the production of so many of our fruits and vegetables looks grim.
This presents a unique challenge for gardeners, because everything they do could either promote the growth of bee populations or stunt them. But if you are new to the world of horticulture or agriculture, don't be concerned. Ecologists and other gardeners have done enough research to provide us with the best practices for maintaining a garden that is conducive to bees. If you have been planning on creating your own garden, you could not have picked a better time. Bee populations and our way of life may very well depend on it.
Flowers to Plant
For your garden to be useful to the bees, there are a few things you will need to know about the flowers you plant. Some sources suggest that native plants are better for the ecosystem as a whole, and the aforementioned ecologist suggests that bee populations need a wide variety and amount of flowers than they currently have. Of course you should be responsible in your local area and select plants that promote the general well-being of the vegetation of that ecosystem.
Bees are specifically attracted to brightly colored flowers. Blue, purple, or yellow plants are some of the best options for these color-sighted bugs. Perennial plants are also a great option to promote bee populations. Some other specific plant options include: purple coneflower, goldenrod, and sunflowers. But be sure to double check the plants you purchase for neonicotinoid pesticides, which are sometimes already added in. Buying organic plants will help you to avoid accidentally planting these chemicals with your flowers.
Do’s and Don’ts in the Garden
Before you pull any weeds, consider the bees! Bees like weeds such as clovers and dandelions, and many of the wildflowers that would normally fall in the “weed” category are actually food for the bees. If you have a weed that needs to be removed from your garden, let it bloom for the bees first and then remove it directly afterward.
Will you want to avoid using harmful chemical weed killers and pesticides in the garden. A few safe options for bees are sulfur or insecticidal soap. It’s best if you can use these during times when the bees are not buzzing about in the garden, and only spray the flowers that are still buds. Bees won’t be attracted to those but will head straight for the ones in full bloom.
Also, don’t cover every inch of your garden with mulch. Some bees like to burrow in the ground, using a few twigs and dirt areas to lay eggs. Leave a small space and a shallow container of water in the garden for the bees to nest and thrive.
Naturally, you will want to make sure your bee-friendly garden is a safe distance from your house. You might be cultivating the bee population, but the bees may not see it that way. The last thing you want to do is become a danger to their inhabitation and therefore a target. As long as you are careful about planning your garden, you can help make a significant difference in the regeneration of an entire species. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced botanist, we can all learn more about our role in the sustainability of our ecosystem. Impact your world by sharing these gardening tips with others. Our future is directly related to the future of our bees.