More and more gardeners are anxious to plant a bee garden. By planting a bee garden, you too can do your part to help the bees by adding to the shrinking inventory of flower-rich habitat in your area. In return, the bees will pollinate your flowers, providing a bountiful harvest of fruits, seeds and vegetables as well as the joy of watching them up close. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind as you grow your bee garden:
RETHINK YOUR LAWN
Replace part or all of your front lawn grass with flowering plants, which provides food and habitat for honey bees, bumble bees, solitary bees, butterflies and other pollinators.
SELECT SINGLE FLOWER TOPS FOR YOUR BEE GARDEN
…such as daisies and marigolds, rather than double flower tops such as double impatiens. Double headed flowers look showy but produce much less nectar and make it much more difficult for bees to access pollen.
SKIP THE HIGHLY HYBRIDIZED PLANTS
…which have been bred not to seed and thus produce very little pollen for bees.
PLAN FOR BLOOMS SEASON-ROUND
Plant at least three different types of flowers in your bee garden to ensure blooms through as many seasons as possible. This will provide bees and other pollinators with a constant source of food. For example:
- Crocus, hyacinth, borage, calendula, and wild lilac provide enticing spring blooms in a bee garden.
- Bees feast on bee balm, cosmos, echinacea, snapdragons foxglove, and hosta in the summer.
- For fall, zinnias, sedum, asters, witch hazel and goldenrod are late bloomers that will tempt foragers.
BUILD HOMES FOR NATIVE BEES
Leave a patch of the garden in a sunny spot uncultivated for native bees that burrow. Some native bees also need access to soil surface for nesting. For wood- and stem-nesting bees, this means piles of branches, bamboo sections, hollow reeds, or nesting blocks made out of untreated wood. Mason bees need a source of water and mud, and many kinds of bees are attracted to weedy, untended hedgerows. You can also support our Sponsor-a-Hive program, which places solitary bee homes (and honey bee hives) in school and community gardens across the U.S.
ONLY USE NATURAL PESTICIDES AND FERTILIZERS
Avoid using herbicides or pesticides in the bee garden. They not only can be toxic to bees but also are best not introduced to children or adults that visit your garden. Ladybugs, spiders, and praying mantises will naturally keep pest populations in check.
CREATE A “BEE BATH”
Bees need a place to get fresh, clean water. Fill a shallow container of water with pebbles or twigs for the bees to land on while drinking. Make sure to maintain the container full of fresh water to ensure that they know they can return to the same spot every day in your bee garden.
LIVE IN A HOME WITHOUT A GARDEN?
You need only a small plot of land for a bee garden—it can even be a window container or rooftop—to create an inviting oasis for bees. Every little bit can help to nurture bees and other pollinators.