Another re-post from my blog.
As you may have read over the past couple of years or more, the honeybee populations are in decline. There is disease that is wiping out the colonies at an alarming rate. Pesticides are killing off the bee populations. And bees are critical to so much of our food supply.
I’ve been researching a little bit to find out exactly what bees like to dine on. There are many flowers, wildflowers, herbs, and trees that are extremely attractive to honeybees. I found a fantastic list here of plants that are great to plant. One thing I did see that was mentioned was that bees prefer single layer petal flowers. They produce more nectar and they are easier to get to.
I wouldn’t just go out and buy some plants from a big box store, because these tend to be laden with pesticides from the flowers to the seeds, though some stores are now realizing what pesticides are doing and are selling bee-friendly plants now. Many seed varieties are GMO (genetically modified) and are destructive to bee colonies. Check the seed company name to see if they are involved in GMO’s or if they are steering clear. The one company I absolutely love to buy from is Baker Creek (Rare Seeds). You can check out their website here. For the past few years, I’ve planted zinnias that I purchased from them and the bees have showed up in very impressive numbers from June though August. I even caught one guy asleep in a Meteor zinnia. I thought he was sick, but he got up and flew away a few minutes after this photo was taken.
For some fantastic ideas for your bee garden, the Honeybee Conservancy has some great tips for making your yard bee-friendly.
A bee bath, a bee motel, and tips for your yard are available on their site.
A bee bath would be an easy and fun activity to do with kiddos.
I found a great one here on Pinterest.
Another thing to do is to support your local bee herders! There are several around us (we are blessed) and one of them happens to be a friend of mine, so we are going to start buying our honey from Little Green Bees now that we are back in the area. Just another instance of “know your farmer”. There’s always that reassurance when you can see the bees happily flying around the yard and doing what bees do best. I’ve been to their place and those were the happiest bees I’ve seen in my life and, if I may say, they are just a little bit spoiled with all the amazing bee-friendly plants that are in the yard.
So, as you’re scoping out your yard this spring, getting it ready for planting, keep in mind what type of plants and seeds you are purchasing, whether they are harmful or beneficial (GMO or not), and what type of animals you want to draw to your homestead. Whether you live in an apartment with a sunny patch of patio or a window box, or whether you live on one hundred acres with plenty of room to thrive, this is a great time to invest back into the economy in a “little bit off the map” kind of way: contribute to the bees, the bee keepers, and the food industry, and yourself.
Show the bees a little love.