How to Make a Bee-Friendly Garden
We all know that bees are invaluable to our ecosystem. Honeybees and native bee species pollinate up to one-third of everything we eat. This is just one reason why it’s so important to attract bees to our gardens.
Sadly, we also know that bees are struggling to survive due to stress, parasites, and disease. This is why we need to start thinking about what we can do to help bees survive.
Whether you’re trying to attract bees to your garden to help your plants grow, or you simply want to help out your local bee population, these are some simple steps you can take to make your garden pollinator friendly and attract bees to your garden.
Why It’s Important to Attract Bees to Your Garden
Bees play an absolutely vital role in nature and food production. They pollinate 80% of all flowering plants. In fact, one single bee colony can pollinate 300 million flowers every day.
Plus, 1 in 3 bites of food we eat come from plants pollinated by bees. We would quite literally starve without them!
While plants like tomatoes and peppers are self-pollinating, meaning their flowers contain both the male and female parts, other plants like cucumber and squash require pollinators for pollination.
If you’re noticing that your plants are producing flowers but these flowers aren’t getting pollinated, you might need to hand-pollinate until you can attract more pollinators to your garden.
How to Attract Bees and Butterflies to Your Garden
If your garden is struggling due to lack of pollinators, you can use the following tips to attract bees to your garden and help get things growing again!
1. Shrink Your Lawn
For the longest time, we’ve had this idea that a beautiful lawn is a huge patch of perfectly manicured grass with nothing else around it. It’s time to change conventional wisdom and realize that these “perfect lawns” are doing terrible damage to our environment.
Instead, we should shrink our lawns. Consider planting bushes and trees that will grow flowers for bees. (Bonus points if they also produce food you can eat!) You can also leave more natural areas around your yard for the bees.
Best of all, less lawn means less grass you have to waste time cutting!
There’s one house in my neighborhood that has several large trees in their front yard. Around each tree they leave a circle of native grass and flowers that they don’t cut, and they have this adorable sign posted to let everyone they’re helping out the bees.
2. Don’t Use Pesticides
Most pesticides are not selective. They will kill every type of bug out there — including the beneficial ones. If you have pests in your garden, don’t immediately grab that bottle of pesticide.
Instead, always start with pest barriers and natural repellents to get rid of them. If those don’t work and you have to use a pesticide, make sure you select an organic one and start with the least toxic one possible.
Also, be sure you always read the directions and follow them exactly. Even certain organic pesticides aren’t safe around bees when they’re wet, so you need to know how much to use and when to spray them to keep the bees safe.
3. Grow Native Plants
When bees buzz into your garden, they’re looking for two main things: nectar and pollen. Nectar is loaded with sugar and is a bee’s main source of energy. Pollen provides bees a balanced diet of fats and proteins.
Many people like to plant hybridized flower varieties because of their disease resistance, flower size, unique colors, or bigger and longer blooms. Unfortunately, hybridization often reduces the flower’s production of nectar and pollen, and it can sometimes leave the plant completely sterile and useless to bees and other pollinators.
Instead of hybridized flowers or exotic flowers that don’t naturally grow in your area, try to plant native flowers around your yard. Research suggests that native plants are 4x more attractive to bees than exotic flowers. They’re also typically well adapted to your local climate and can thrive without requiring too much attention from you.
If you’re not sure what to get, check out the wildflower garden kits from Sunday. They offer an eastern wildflower garden kit and a western wildflower garden kit. The kits come with everything you need to get started and both are adapted to your region with flower species that are easy to grow and perfect for local pollinators.
4. Keep Color in Mind
Bees have great color vision to help them find the flowers they need. They’re especially attracted to blue, purple, violet, white, and yellow blooms.
As you’re planting flowers around your yard to attract bees, consider focusing on those colors especially. This Bee Happy Seed Collection is a great choice because it includes a wide variety of bee-friendly flowers.
If you plant some near your vegetables, you can draw in more bees to help pollinate your crops.
5. Plant Flowers in Clumps
Rather than have individual plants scattered throughout your yard, plant your flowers in clumps. Flowers of one species that are clustered into clumps will attract more pollinators because they’re easier for the bees to see.
If you have the space, try to make your clumps of flowers 4 feet or more in diameter.
6. Include Flowers With Different Shapes
Did you know there are around 4,000 different species of native bees in North America alone? That’s a lot of different bees! And they are all different sizes, have different tongue lengths and shapes, and feed on different shaped flowers.
Since you want to feed all bee species that come to your yard, try to provide a range of flower shapes, such as those with a cup, those with a flat head, and those that grow in a plume.
7. Have Plants That Bloom in Different Seasons
In addition to having flowers with different shapes, you want to make sure the flowers in your yard bloom during different seasons. Most bees are generalists, which means they feed on a range of plants during their life cycle.
By planting different flowers that bloom in the spring, summer, and fall, you can ensure you always have something growing that will support the bees. For example, you can have crocus and hyacinths that bloom in the spring, zinnias growing in the summer, and asters blooming in the fall.
Related: The Best Vegetables to Plant in the Summer
8. Grow Flowers in Strategic Places
Where you plant your flowers is just as important as what type of flowers you plant. When you’re planning your garden, make sure you leave strategic places for your flowers.
This printable garden planner is a great way to help you do that because it includes a convenient grid sheet that makes it easy for you to visualize the layout of your garden. It also has a variety of other sheets that will help you grow a more productive garden year after year!
Additionally, keep in mind that bees prefer sunny spots over shady areas. However, they also need some shelter so they have an easier time landing on flowers on windy days.
Related: 15 Best Vegetables to Grow in the Shade
9. Hang Bee Hotels
Although honeybees live in hives, many wild bees will take shelter in dead trees or branches, underground nests, weedy hedges, or abandoned animal burrows. Mason bees, which are particularly helpful for pollinating fruit trees, like to shelter in holes in dead wood left by beetles and other insects.
You can also give these bees a safe place to rest by installing this bee hotel in your yard or garden. The hotel includes about 90 nesting tubes made from natural bamboo, which will not get moldy and cause the pollinators to get sick.
It includes both a hook on the back so you can mount it to a stake or fence post as well as a sturdy hanger so you can hang it from a tree.
10. Offer Water
Bees need water for all types of reasons. Just like us, they need to replenish with water throughout the day. They also use water to cool their hive, dissolve crystallized honey, and dilute stored honey for feeding.
This means it’s important for bees to have a safe place in your yard where they can get water. Fortunately, there are several ways you can do this.
If you already have a bird bath in your yard, you might notice bees resting on the rim to get a sip. This beautiful bee watering station is easy to place near your flowers and includes marbles to give the bees a safe place to land when they need a drink.
How to Attract Bees to Your Garden
Not only are bees a crucial part of helping your garden grow, but they’re also immensely important to our entire ecosystem. If you want to ensure you have a thriving garden, you need the bees visit.
Thanks to these excellent tips on how to attract bees to your garden, you can draw in more of these beneficial insects and enjoy a more productive garden!
More Helpful Gardening Tips
Did you enjoy learning more about how to attract bees to your garden? Are you interested in discovering even more gardening tips? Then please be sure to take a look at some of our other popular posts:
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