Bees perform a very important function in our ecosystem. Research studies suggest that one-third of the human food supply depends on insect pollination. Bees pollinate fruits, flowers and vegetables, they also provide honey and beeswax. There are nearly 20,000 known species of bees.
These wonderful winged creatures are found all over the world. But unfortunately, the bee population is declining.
Creating a bee-friendly garden helps in increasing the production of fruits and vegetables. Bees help to improve the overall health of our gardens too. Research studies suggest that bees are attracted to gardens with a wide variety of colourful flowers. But not all flowers attract bees. Purple and blue are their favourite colours. They are also attracted to white, orange and yellow flowers. It is advisable to plant flowers of a single species in clumps (about four feet in diameter). Bees are also attracted to flowers that have strong scents.
Bird’s eye, sunflower, blue mist, bog sage, borage, calliopsis, cape mallow, catmint, cosmos, gaillardia, goldmarie, horehound, lavender, monch, rosemary and toadflax are some bee-friendly flowers. If you are trying to create a bee-friendly garden then it is also important to ensure that the garden is blooming with flowers throughout the year. It is advisable to include flowers of different shapes, this is because the tongue length varies with species of bees.
Gardens with ten or more species of bee-friendly plants will certainly help to attract a large number of bees. The bees are also more likely to visit gardens which are less manicured, which is perfect for those of us who have little time to maintain a fully manicured garden – that’s my type of gardening. While I do enjoy it, I don’t always have the time for all the up-keep which is involved.
Not all bee species are social with many species of bees nesting individually. Bee nests can be found in the ground or in the branches of dead trees. It is a good idea to construct bee nests in the garden (in a shady area) but if you have children you’ll most likely want to avoid them actually nesting in your garden.
Chemical pesticides kill the bees so it is advisable to use pesticides which are least toxic. There are many bee-friendly pesticides are available in the market.
While we usually try to rid our gardens of weeds as they are a nuisance and unsightly they are actually a good source of pollen and nectar – weeds you may want to consider keeping are dandelions and white clover. It is a good idea to have more native plants in your garden to help attract the bees.
Bees also need water so you may like to have a pond, fountain or even a birdbath in the garden to make it really attractive to the bees.
Creating a bee friendly garden not only increases the productivity of the garden but also helps save this endangered species from extinction.
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