Making Your Garden a Buffet for Bees
The Best Gardening Tips to Make Your Landscape Irresistible to Bees
Article By Guest Contributor Christy Erikson, Saving Our Bees
Bees are our most beneficial pollinators. You can create a bee-friendly environment whether you tend a patio garden, are involved with a community garden, or plant a backyard habitat. Get started with these great gardening tips.
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Flowers for Food Bees visit flowers for pollen and for nectar. Nectar provides their sugar and pollen provides their proteins and fats. Even a container garden or small patch of flowers is helpful to bees. Bees like flowers grown in clumps instead of single plants here and there, so keep that in mind as you plant.
By offering varied flowers through the growing season, you will keep bees coming to your garden routinely. Here are some points to consider as you decide on fall plantings:
- Try native plants. Native plants and heirloom varieties with simple flowers are usually best for attracting bees. Modern, hybridized plants with more elaborate blooms often have less pollen.
- Consider colors. Bees can see colors and are most drawn to blue, purple, violet, white and yellow. Keep this in mind when choosing your flowers.
- Include some fast flowering annuals for late fall blooms. Plants such as daisies, cosmos and sunflowers grow relatively quickly and their flowers will provide late season food for bees.
- You can sow seeds in the fall for a jumpstart on spring blooms. Some hardy annuals such as bachelor buttons, cilantro and sweet peas do well with fall planting. Be sure to mulch for winter protection.
Look at Your Landscape. Fall is a great time to make your landscaping more bee-friendly. A couple simple steps and adding a tree or shrub will make your garden more attractive to bees.
Leave a “natural” area. Provide an undisturbed area for bees to spend winter. It will also welcome other beneficial insects to your yard, creating a more balanced ecological system. You can even leave a dead tree or limb for nesting bees, just be sure it is safe for passersby.
Plant trees and shrubs. Many flowering trees and shrubs not only feed bees but also enhance your landscape all year. Here are some options for planting this fall:
- Hydrangeas are a great choice for your garden, providing interest in all four seasons. There are many varieties, with blooms ranging from flat groupings of small florets to large, lilac-style flowerheads. Flower color varies depending on the cultivar, ranging from creamy white to pink, blue, and occasionally green or purple. Most hydrangeas bloom spring through summer, and they typically retain their sturdy flowers into winter. Blooms turn to tans and browns as hydrangeas go dormant, offering texture and beauty in winter landscapes.
- Pagoda dogwoods. The Pagoda dogwood is a small tree or large shrub which will provide year round interest in your garden. In spring the Pagoda offers clusters of white flowers to feed bees and other pollinators. During summer months you can admire the dark green foliage. Bluish-black berries emerge in late summer, and the leaves turn a rich burgundy in fall. The elegant, horizontal branches of the Pagoda dogwood provide interest in winter gardens.
- The ninebark is a versatile, compact shrub. There are many cultivars offering a variety of leaf colors, and some change color through the seasons. Spring through mid-summer the shrubs bloom in shades of white, pink or red. When ninebarks shed their leaves for winter, the plants earn their name with a display of colorful, peeling, textured bark.
Bring on the Bees Get busy this fall so your garden will be a year round haven for bees. Choose flowers that will feed bees through spring, summer and fall. Make your landscape bee-friendly with a natural habitat for them. Plant trees and shrubs that will feed bees and will beautify your property. Following these simple tips will keep bees visiting your garden year after year.