Growing a Bee-Friendly Garden

Bees in gardenMany people find bees to be annoying, particularly when they’re out in their yard trying to accomplish a task and the bees keep swarming and “threatening” them. While bees can definitely sting, it’s important to note that they carry many benefits for the outdoor world, and we shouldn’t interfere with their inhabitance in our yards and gardens. Rather, it would be prudent to grow a bee-friendly garden that condones their presence.

Why We Need Bees

Just like you learned in your 6th-grade science class, bees are pollinators. That means that plants, animals, and humans depend heavily on bees to help plants reproduce. Most of the food we as humans eat comes from plants that are dependent upon pollination: nuts, fruits, vegetables, and seeds to name a few. What better benefit for a garden than to create an environment where bees are plentiful to help with this process!

While bees are extremely helpful and in this way we want them around, we definitely want to keep them outside where they belong. It makes sense that supporting a healthy outdoor habitat will encourage bees (as well as other insects) to stay out of your house. Bees don’t necessarily want to form nests in your attic, but they will if it’s the best spot around that they’ve found.

How to Create a Bee Friendly Environment

With a little effort on your part, you can create a welcoming environment for bees in your garden, and with no added gardening effort on your part, it’s likely that you’ll yield three times what you have in the past. The first thing to do is build a bee house. You’ll want to create a gallon sized house out of wood scraps or something waterproof, paint it a bright color to attract the bees attention, fill the box with store-bought nesting tubes for bees, and then hang the house somewhere out of the rain. It may take some time for the bees to find their new home, but they will find it after about a year.

You can also provide bee food: either nectar or pollen are the two they love. Choose plants for your gardens that flower year round so there’s always pollen available; and as a rule of them, the best pollen plants are those that aren’t so pleasing to the human eye. Bees like bright colors, so choose flowers that are showy and plant them in clumps so bees see them more than if they were scattered amongst many colors.

The last thing you can do is make a bee bath with fresh drinking water, sort of like a bird bath but much smaller and with little “landing pads” for the bees. Make a bee bowl by taking a shallow bowl and placing a few big rocks in it. Add the water, but don’t cover up the little rock islands since those will be used by the bees as spots to land. Place the bath on the ground, perhaps next to your bee house. Change out the water every day to keep them healthy.

The benefits of having bees around way outnumber the fear factors and threats involved. Although we should always be cautious, we should work towards cultivating a garden environment that welcomes their presence.

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