Over the past few weeks, I have been sharing a series of edible gardens to plant at home. Our garden plans have included herb gardens, a tea garden and even a taco garden. What I haven’t covered yet is the most important component of any garden – bees and pollinators. Put simply, without bees and other pollinators, our gardens would not grow. It’s that basic.
Every fruit, or vegetable starts as a flower on a plant. That flower produces pollen, but it also has a receptor to other grains of pollen. Most plants cannot pollinate themselves, so they rely on outside factors—like wind, birds and honey bees—to spread pollen from flower to flower. Our gardens rely on bees. Our food cycle relies on bees. Today we are looking at different ways that we can help support honey bees, and other pollinators. By doing these few simple things in our outdoor spaces, we can build an awesome bee garden.
How to Build a Bee Garden
Introduce Natural Predators – Introducing natural predators for common pests into your garden can be a very effective way to control unwelcome garden guests. Did you know that ladybugs (lady birds) are aphid exterminators? Many garden centres sell containers of ladybugs to be added to home gardens. Another predatory insect that can be used for pest control is lacewings. Purchase lacewing larvae and they will rid your garden of aphids, mealy bugs and other soft-bodied garden pests. Head to your local garden centre and learn more about the many ways to keep your garden pest free.
Plant All Season Bloomers – Any awesome bee garden needs to be filled with flowering plants. While there are many factors that affect honey bee health, most experts agree that one of the biggest stressors is the lack of healthy food sources to feed honey bees. Look for colourful, flowering plants that are native to your area. Bees can see a wide variety of colours, which is why colourful flowers (blue, purple, white and yellow) are most attractive to bees. To make selecting flowers easier the folks at Bees Matter are giving away Buzzing Gardens seed kits. Sign up to receive a packet of seeds that will cover a 5 square foot garden. In 2015, Bees Matter gave away over 35,000 seed kits to households across Canada. Every Buzzing Gardens seed kit contains specially selected seeds that have been chosen in partnership with Pollinator Partnership Canada to provide a nutritious food source for honey bees.
Container Gardens – While we traditionally think of bees floating around a field of flowers, a simple container garden can be incredibly helpful to bees. According to Bees Matter, a hive of bees will visit approximately 225,000 flowers each day. Every flower counts, especially in urban environments. A flower filled container on your balcony is important to bees and other pollinators.
Build a Bee Bath – Bees need water. We don’t often think about bees hanging out in water, but every living thing needs water to survive – even bees. It is incredibly easy to build a bee bath for your garden. All you need is a shallow dish (like a pot tray) filled with small rocks or pebbles. Pour in enough water to reach half way up the rocks. Set the bee bath in your garden, in a nice sunny spot, close to your beautiful flowering plants. The bees will stop in and get refreshed. Bees actually carry water back to the hive, where it helps keep the hive environment cool.
Don’t Forget Your Lawn – Do you struggle with growing and maintaining a thick, green, grassy lawn? Skip the grass seed and pick up clover seeds instead. Clover is an incredibly hardy ground cover option. The clover flowers are a favourite of busy bees. Not only will you increase your chances of finding a four leaf clover, you will have a flowering front lawn.
Visit the Bees Matter website and sign up to order a free Buzzing Garden seed kit and learn more about the importance of honey bees and pollinators.
DISCLOSURE: I was compensated for this article; however I am entirely responsible for the content, views and opinions expressed in this post and not the sponsor mentioned above.
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