Learning how to attract bees to your yard will add a wonderful dimension to your gardening at the same time you give the environment in your area a big boost. Bee populations are declining all over the world. Beekeepers play a role in helping to establish and nurture populations of bees. Home gardeners can help bees by providing the elements they need to survive in a natural environment. By doing this, you will gain an appreciation for the important role bees play and the interesting dynamic of their work.
Why Learn How to Attract Bees?
Bees Are Essential For Pollination
Much of the world's food supply depends on pollination by bees. Bees play a huge role in the propagation of many varieties of plants through their pollination activity. They are fascinating creatures that work hard. A variety of conditions threaten the world's bee population including pesticides, disease, and loss of habitat. Anything people can do to support bees is a positive thing. And, the good news is that it is easy to do all the right things to bring bees to your yard and provide a safe haven for them.
Bees Are Fascinating Creatures
Besides the eco-friendly reasons to nurture bees, they are just plain fascinating creatures. Increasing their presence in your garden will give you and your family, and maybe even your neighborhood, the chance to know more about these amazing hard workers. You will be pleasantly surprised to discover how easily you can work right next to pollinating bees while you are gardening. This close-up view of bees at work is one of the rewards of inviting them into your yard. It can be almost hypnotic to watch a bee as it performs its work on a flower.
What About Stings?
Once you begin to attract bees to your yard, your family and friends may raise concerns about the possibility of stings. While it is true that bees are capable of stinging, bees who live in nature are busy about their own business. They are quite unlikely to sting unless they are provoked. They are not like wasps or hornets. Remaining calm around the bees in your yard is important.
An important part of cultivating the presence of bees is helping the people around you to appreciate them, act responsibly toward them, and not be afraid. A degree of caution is always a good idea, of course. But, it is also a good idea to educate people who mistakenly call wasps and hornets bees. Those more aggressive, fierce stingers do not deserve to share that name.
How Much Will It Cost?
If you already tend a yard and garden, taking the steps to attract bees will not be expensive. You already invest time and money in plantings. Many of the plants that attract bees are perennials, so once they are established, they will come back year after year. Other plants can be started from seed. How to attract bees is easy and affordable; it's just a matter of knowing what bees like and need.
How to Attract Bees to Your Yard with Plants
Bees Like Color
Bees are attracted to yellow, blue, and purple colors. Planning your plantings with those colors in mind is the first step. Bee balm is a purple perennial flower that is like a bee magnet. Butterflies and hummingbirds like it too. Lilacs, coneflowers, lilies, and poppies are all perennials that bees like.
Bees Even Like Weeds And Wildflowers
If you need an excuse not to cut your grass quite as often or quite so short, keep in mind that bees like clover and dandelions. They also like wildflowers and flowering weeds. If you have a large yard, you may be able to dedicate a corner of it as a wildflower garden or a natural grass plot. Patches that produce dense growth are attractive to bees. Bees are attracted to clumps or clusters of flowers that are concentrated enough to get their attention. You don't have to develop a perfect, formal garden to draw bees.
Ground Cover Can Provide Protection
Bees need to be able to get out of the heat. Ground cover plantings can provide protection for them by giving them shade. Bees will be looking for this kind of respite on hot days. Plants like coleus that may attract them by their reddish purple color are a good idea. If you discover that bees are taking advantage of your ground cover, you may want to alert your family to watch for bees on the ground in the area of those plants. Stepping on a bee is a sure way to get stung.
Bees Like Fruits And Vegetables, Too
How to attract bees to your yard can involve fruit and vegetable plants as well as flowers. Bees are attracted to the blossoms of strawberry plants, tomatoes, zucchini, and other squash. The flowers of these plants provide the pollen bees need to make honey. These plants may be grown in compact patches that will help bees locate them.
Plan For Blooms In All Seasons
Depending on where you live, you will want to plan your garden to have things in bloom throughout the growing season. This is a common practice for gardeners. Attracting bees can be as simple as remembering their color preferences and having concentrations of the plants they like that will bloom at different times.
5 Tips on How to Attract Bees
Plan Your Garden
Once you have learned how to attract bees to your yard, you will want to plan your flower and vegetable plantings to include as many as possible that bees are known to like. Remembering their color favorites of yellow, purple and blue as well as fruit and vegetable flowers will make it easy. Bees like flat-petalled and single petal flowers better than dense, multi-layered flowers like peonies.
Having a concentration of one plant in an area of the garden will make it easier for the bees to find it. Having plants in bloom throughout your growing season will take some planning, but many gardeners already have flowers planted to have something in bloom continuously. Perennials offer the advantage of coming back every year. They also tend to increase in number, helping the gardener to establish a larger patch. Bee balm is an especially good perennial. It is an attractive plant that blooms for a good period of time and tends to multiply to cover a larger area. It spreads easily and is a good plant for dividing and sharing with other bee lovers.
Remember That Bees Get Thirsty
Bees work very hard and actually can become dehydrated. A small water feature like a garden fountain is one way to provide water for them. You want to be careful not to create the kind of standing water situation that will breed mosquitos. If you have a garden pond, lily pads, or artificial floating pieces, they can give the bees a safe place to land and reach the water without drowning.
Keeping a ground cover area well-watered can provide access to small amounts of water on and under the leaves. A bird bath also can be useful, but you will need to provide surfaces for the bees to land on. The edge of the birdbath is too high off the water. Placing rocks in a bird bath can provide a perch for the bees. Placing shallow dishes of water throughout your flower and vegetable beds is another way to offer water to bees. It is important to remember to change the water frequently to keep it fresh.
Avoid Chemical Pesticides
Pesticides are one of the most serious problems contributing to the decline in bee populations. It will be self-defeating to your efforts to attract bees to be using chemical pesticides in your flower or vegetable patches. Neonicotinoid or neonic is a pesticide that is toxic to bees and especially should be avoided. Learning non-chemical ways to address pests can help make your garden more bee-friendly and still take care of harmful insects.
Non-chemical options include herbal products, burning sage, and introducing ladybugs into the garden. Ladybugs can be purchased through garden supply houses. They are an attractive addition to a garden and work hard to reduce pesty insects. When you are purchasing bedding plants, make sure they haven't been treated with pesticides. Studies have shown that over 50% of bedding plants sold at nurseries have been treated with a pesticide. Plants may be labeled as "protected" which indicates pesticide has been used. Starting plants from seed is an economical way to start healthy plants that you know are pesticide free.
Create Inviting Spaces For Bees To Live
Bees are good at establishing their own hives if they can find the right location. There are a number of ways the home gardener can help provide shelter for bees. If space permits, creating a pile of large tree limbs, logs or branches will offer bees possible shelter. Some people build or buy bee houses, which are like birdhouses. They can be an attractive addition to the yard while giving bees a place to call home. Bee houses should be built with non-toxic materials.
If your yard has large trees, bees may establish a hive on their own in one of them. Then you will want to be especially careful about pruning the tree or using any chemical pesticides on it. It is also possible that as your interest in bees grows, you may think about setting up a hive or hives in your yard. It is even possible for apartment dwellers to have hives on the roofs of their buildings. Depending on zoning ordinances, even a small yard potentially can accommodate beehives.
Educate Your Family And Neighbors
After you get started attracting bees, you are likely to become quite an advocate for them. If you can share your interest in bees with your family and neighbors, you may be able to convince them not to use pesticides that may be harmful to bees. This will help create a larger geographic area that is safe and inviting for bees. Your interest may even extend to promoting city or county ordinances limiting pesticide use. Many cities and counties have pesticide restrictions. Pesticides are lethal to bees and there is also increasing evidence of links to cancers in humans. Minimizing toxic pesticides may well become a passion.
Once you decide that how to attract bees to your yard is important to you, you're ready to get started. If you are already raising flowers and vegetables, you may already be attracting bees. Bees take care of pollinating many varieties of plants and agricultural crops, but they are attracted by certain plants. Growing those plants in your yard will help you attract more bees. One important step that may change your gardening is to eliminate the use of chemical pesticides that threaten bees. Learning alternative strategies will help keep your yard safe for bees.
Having a bee-friendly yard will not solve the problem of the declining bee population, but it certainly will make you more aware of issues pertaining to bees and their safety. Your enthusiasm for bees may rub off on your friends and neighbors. If you can expand a pesticide-free environment throughout your neighborhood, you will have accomplished something. Bees are well worth the effort. Their survival depends on the awareness of their importance and a determination to protect them.