Be A Bee Hero
I am loving seeing all the bees, wasps and pollinating flies buzzing about the Yogarden flowers! Did you know that one out of every three bites of food you eat are because of bees? And while you might expect butterflies to be the second most important pollinator, actually flies hold the number two spot!
We all know about the honeybee, and if you are anything like my hubby, you could potentially out-compete the worker bees in honey consumption, but actually our BC and Canadian native bees are the most important pollinator in most of our ecosystems.
Included in this large group are mason bees, sweat bees, carpenter bees, miner bees, and leafcutter bees, all of which are considered 'solitary bees', as instead of living in colonies, solitary bees live on their own in burrows, reeds, or other protected areas.
I know I am doing my job as a nature steward when I see these busy little fellows minding their own beezness and spreading the pollen love. But their numbers are in decline across the board, and that's where we can come in with planting a pollinator garden.
What makes a successful pollinator garden, you may ask? I've done a bit of research in making our yard as pollinator-friendly as possible and have some of the tips below:
Pollinators Gardens Should:
use colourful plants that provide nectar and pollen sources
plant flowers in full sun, or as much sun as possible as bees require heat to get their wings up to speed and nectar producing flowers are more productive in the sun
keep it organic and avoid using any pesticides
provide a water source, such as a birdbath or even shallow pot saucer, with a flat stone in it to act as a bee landing zone
be situated in a sunny area away from strong winds
create large groups of preferably native or non-invasive plants; lots of the same plant is better than lots of different plants
plant so that the garden is in continuous bloom throughout the growing season, so to avoid trapping pollinators at your garden without pollen or nectar source
leave some bare soil on the ground without a mulch cover for burrowing native bees, especially if its near a water source so they can make 'mud' for their nest holes
plant easy-growers with scented flowers such as thyme, oregano and mint (but keep mint in a separate container as it can grow rampantly
avoid hybrid species if possible as many are bred with lots of showy petals but not much nectar or pollen
Bees are attracted to brightly coloured blooms of purple, yellow or blue, so plants like Joe Pye Weed, Blue Columbine, Vervain, Veronicas and sunflowers are good options. Smaller bees will opt towards flowers that are wide open so they can reach the nectar easily, like Asters or coneflowers, while large bees are able to crawl into long, tubular flowers, like Blue Lobelia, Bee Balm and Lupines.
Sometimes you might find a bee unmoving on the ground. If it still looks alive but weak, it might be dehydrated and unable to fly to the next flower. Drip a drop of water next to it - I've done this and watched as the bee sucked up the water and flew away!
Let pollinators go about their business, enjoy watching them and take close-up pictures if you can. It's exciting to be an active part of Nature!