Do you know how to attract bees to your yard? Maybe a better question is why would you possibly want to attract bees to your yard?
While there are some people who will do whatever it takes to eliminate all kinds of insects from their property in an attempt to create the “perfect” yard, the more informed and conscious gardeners, homeowners, and consumers understand that the presence of bees is actually a good thing. Vital in fact. The more bees that are present in your yard or garden, the healthier your space is. If you are a gardener, you’ll understand that flowers, fruits and vegetables benefit from having more bees around. One out of every three bites of food is pollinated by bees and other pollinators. They give us food and they are a sign of balance and good health in our local eco systems. You really don’t want to live in a world without bees.
Aren’t convinced? Try watching one of the bee documentaries out there currently. I recommend Vanishing of the Bees. It highlights the bee crisis we currently face and just how dire it could be if we don’t turn it around. I was crying inside of ten minutes…it’s powerful stuff. I re-watched this week and then was horrified by the news a couple days ago that over 25,000 bees died in a Target parking lot after trees were sprayed with pesticides.
If you are one of those who understand the benefits, you will do whatever it takes to lure them to your yard or garden and your local community in general.
There are a number of things that you can do to attract more bees to your yard or garden, and not all of them require that you be a master gardener or landscaper. The most important thing you can do is to start thinking like a bee. This includes understanding what it is that bees like (or don’t like) and then creating an outdoor space that reflects this.
What a Bee Wants. Bees are looking for two things when they visit a plant; nectar and pollen. By using plants and flowers in your yard or garden that are rich in either nectar or pollen, you will find yourself with more bees than you can shake a stick at and an outdoor space that is a gardener’s dream come true. Unfortunately, not all of these plants (however beautiful) are created equal.
Keep it Natural. One of the main detractors for bees is flowers and plants that have been hybridized. While these plants have been designed to be easier to grow, to have bigger blooms and be resistant to disease, they usually come with a price; reduced production of nectar and pollen. So keep your selection of plants and flowers as natural as possible.
And speaking of natural, one of the worst things that you can do for your yard is to use many of the chemical pesticides that are on the market today. Yes, they may get rid of pests like aphids and gypsy moths that leave your leaves ragged, but most are not selective and will also kill off the more beneficial insects such as spiders, butterflies and even bees. Believe it or not, once your yard or garden has reached a natural balance, these pests will be balanced out by the more beneficial insects that keep them in check.
Go Native. Yes, exotic plants, trees and flowers may be attractive and alluring to humans, but you are looking to attract local bees and local bees prefer local plants. The more plants and flowers you can include that are native to your area, the more luck you will have in attracting bees.
Think Variety. The bigger the variety of flowers and plants you have in your yard or garden, the more bees you will be able to attract. This includes a variety of colors and shapes. Be especially careful to include plants that will flower at different times of the growing season, this will give your bees a constant source of attractors.
Buy Organic and Buy Local. Support your local farmers, especially ones who garden organically. They are doing their part to garden without toxic chemicals and they are providing food for bees. Many of these small farmers even keep bees to pollinate their crops. They need our monetary support so they can keep doing this important work. Buy local and organic and you support your local economy and your local bee colonies.
Bee Generous. Donate money to bee research and other organizations that are doing important work to support bees. Look for ones locally, perhaps at a college or university.
Be a Backyard Beekeeper. If you have the space take the plunge! We need more eco conscious people to keep the movement to save our bees going and growing. Check out the book The Practical Beekeeper: Beekeeping Naturally for a good getting started guide.
Yes, it may seem like a lot of work, but with a little time and attention you can have a yard or garden that will attract bees. You can also do your part to support those in your community you are making the world a more hospitable place for bees. Your reward is that you are making the world a better place for everyone to “bee”.