Attract bees to the garden

Believe it or not, we are very dependent on bees. Bees are one of the best pollinators and without pollination fruits will not grow and develop. What would your pizza or spaghetti be like without tomatoes? Or shortcake without strawberries?

Since 1972, native undomesticated bee populations have been declining. Perhaps it's because of the use of some insecticides or perhaps because of a mite problem or any of a number of other reasons, but it is serious -- so much so that bee keepers are now actively involved in pollination management. You can do your part by attracting bees to the garden. A healthy bee population is important and beneficial to plant growth.

Bees are not wasps. They are related and bees can trace their genetics to wasps, but bees are the vegetarians of the family. The diet of bees is nectar and pollenfrom plants (which is the payment a plant gives to the bee for helping with pollination.) One way to distinguish a bee from a wasp is look at their legs. Typically, though not always, a bee will have flatter legs and you will notice they are slightly fuzzy; whereas a wasp's legs will be more svelte and smooth. Here is more information about bees.

There are a many different types of bees and they vary in appearance from the fluffy, round bumble bee (excellent at pollinating tomatoes and peppers), to the tiny Perdita which help pollinate azaleas and rhododendrons.

A hive of bees is only capable of pollinating an acre or two of plants -- depending on the plant, bee type, and climate. So you can see whya lot of bees are necessary and why we like to educate homeowners as to how they can attract bees to their Northwest garden.

Grow flowers that will attract and sustain bees.

bee gathering pollen from lavender in a landscapeCreate a pollinator garden -- what a simple (and beautiful) way to help the ecology of our area by growing food for bees. A garden filled with many kinds of flowers that bloom at different times of the year is especially beneficial. Selecting some flowers which have pedals that stay open in the evening rather just during the day will help keep the bee population well fed.Essentially, you will want to plant enough flowers to produce a mass of blooms from early in the year until late fall. Read about growing lavender.

Bees also like rhododendrons, azaleas, clover,asters, dogwoods, flowering cherries, heather and geraniums. Some bees like the blossoms of chives, tomatoes, garlic, squash varieties, watermelon, apples, cherries, and nut-bearing trees. See plants that attract bees.

Create a bee-friendly environment.

We suggest adding bee-friendly structures to your garden where bees can nest. Bees nest in different places, depending on the type of bee. Some bees nest in the ground, some build hanging waxy nests, some bore into wood. All of these bees are good to have around so don't discriminate. Make areas of your garden easy for a bee to hang a nest; add pre-drilled holes for mason bees into wooden landscape structures. Keep some areas of the landscape lightly covered with leaves and twigs for the types of bees that burrow in the ground. Bees also need damp sand or soil where they can extract water.

Use eco-friendly gardening practices.

Insecticides are not good for our Puget Sound ecology or our beloved bumble bee. Rather than rely on insecticides, use other methods of controlling problem bugs. (We will write another blog on this topic as it is an important subject to those of us at Environmental Construction.) Some alternatives to insecticides include: containment, introduction of predatory bugs, or intermixing plantings.

I know there are some of you who are afraid to plant lavender and other flowers that attract bees because of the possibility of bee stings. The bee sting can be very dangerous to those who are allergic. My advice is to becareful where you position your plants (avoid walkways and entryways) if bee stings are a concern.

If you experience a bee swarming your garden, call the Urban Bee Project in Seattle and they should be able to help relocate a swarm at no cost.

If you share our concern for the depleting bee population, ask us at Environmental Construction to help you construct a bee-friendly landscape. We will design and build the perfect garden space for you and our friendly pollinators such as bees (we may even be able to get you started in bee keeping.) Landscape design should always be done with the environment in mind.

See an informative video about bees.This shows themagnitude of the problem .

. Vanishing of the Bees

Category: Animals and Insects

Environmental Construction, Inc.

It's not simply about designing and building beautiful garden spaces, it's about providing a landscape oasis where you can relax from the daily grind and recharge. Let us create an outdoor space that will enhance your home and quality of life.

Read More Here