Bees like at least 4 different species of flowers to be flowering at any time, except in cold climates where it can cause problems for them. Australia is one of the Top 10 honey producing countries in the world. Bees like food choices just like us.
Anyone can help bees by planting herbs, flowers, fruit trees and vegetables that will provide nectar and pollen from their blossoms. The key to any bee friendly garden is to keep it pesticide and herbicide free. There are many natural things you can do to keep your garden plants from being chomped by the bad guys which we will cover in future posts.
Part 2 will focus on bee friendly flowers.
Many gardeners growing vegetables for food, think flowers are a waste of time, but the simple truth is, NATURE doesn’t see it that way. By not having pollinator friendly plants scattered throughout the garden, you limit the amount of produce your vegetables, herbs and fruit trees can produce. Bees pollinate more of our food plants than other pollinators.
Question your parents to where their food comes from, something everyone should know, but less and less people are getting access to.
Start off with quick growing annuals and some self seeding perennials so there are always some flowers amongst your food plants. This is a natural way of confusing some pests looking for food. Planting vegetables in rows (corn is the exception to this), is like telling pests that dinner is served! It is far easier for pests to find dinner if it is all in block in one place. By inter-planting with herbs and flowers you gain a healthier garden and much more produce.
What you can grow will depend on the time of year seeds and seedlings can be planted. A great start to finding out when to plant in Australia is to visit www.gardenate.com and choose your zone (area) where you live, or, check out Annette PSW Seedsaver on Facebook to find out what and when to plant.
Choose plants that produce lots of pollen and nectar to attract bees to the plants that need pollinating.
Not all flower colours are liked by bees. They prefer all shades of blue, purple and yellow colours over all others and will visit these first. Having groups of colour in your garden will leave them very happy to return to visit your yard.
Bees forage within a 2-5 kilometre range of their hives. There are also the native bees, that mostly like wild flowers found on weeds and native plants. Because all bees can travel a fair way make sure you have a source of fresh water in your garden. Shallow bird baths or bowls with some rocks sticking up, or bamboo rafts that float on top will provide them with a landing platform so they won’t drown. Making your garden so bee friendly, will mean that the bees will have a safe place to visit and they won’t stop in unfriendly gardens that use the CIDE MONSTER, the pesticides and herbicides that would kill them.
If you already have some bee friendly flowers and plants, and they are not visiting your garden, this is of concern as it indicates destruction of habitat and herbicides and pesticides are being used in such great quantities that they are dying. These conditions are not a safe environment for us either. There are always bees in a HEALTHY environment.
Easy to Grow Bee Flowers
Cosmos, particularly yellow, mauve and purple
Cuphea hyssopifolia, mauve
Daisies – particularly yellow, mauve, purple and blue varieties
Geranium – Cranesbills
Phacelia – known as the bee flower
Salvia – especially mauve, purple and blue varieties
There are many other flowers not on this list. Some that are pollinated by other pollinators instead of bees, and some that are harder to grow than those on this list. For starters this will give you a wide range of easily grown flowers especially friendly to bees.
Send in pictures of your bee friendly garden flowers in bloom, especially if they show a bee.