Does your lawn and garden nourish the honey bee? Bees are essential for plant pollination. They require the right sources of nectar and pollen to sustain their colonies. Before you spray or dig up the dandelions in your yard, read which trees, plants and wildflowers keep honey bees thriving.
When visiting a friend in her beautiful Atlanta home, I couldn’t take my eyes off the lawn. It was small, but impressive. The grass was so thick and green, the perfect lawn, not a weed in sight, like a fresh manicure. I couldn’t help but chuckle at the thought of seeing our country landscape in the middle of this suburban block. I’m afraid we’d receive knocks on the door from lawn services offering to lend a hand.
It isn’t that we’re lazy. We mow our lawn often, to discourage snakes from hiding in the grass. We have a lawn philosophy, a strategy that we hope you’ll consider if you haven’t already.
Our lawn and meadows are comprised of a varying lot of botanicals. We did plant grass, but there are wild flowers and botanicals that spring up on the landscape: dandelions, wild violets, clover, plantain, chickweed, and water-mint along the creek’s edge. Our lawn strategy includes nourishing the animal kingdom. I love the look and fragrance of fresh cut grass, but I also understand that the bees we tend are in need of natural sources of pollen, nectar and propolis, especially in the dawn of spring. Bees collect nectar and pollen from plants to feed their colonies, which is especially vital during this time of hive formation and brood production.
Dandelions are among the first wild botanicals that appear on the landscape in spring. So, instead of reaching for a container of weed killer, leave the wild flowers in place to provide food for the bees and their young. Colony Collapse Disorder affects us all. Personally, we lost 5 hives of bees over the winter. Looking to replace the bees that we lost, we were unable to purchase more from our usual source, because he can’t meet the current demand from other beekeepers desiring to replace bees they lost this winter.
You don’t have to be a bee-keeper to do your part to save the bee population from further demise. Instead of spreading or spraying your grass and plants with pesticides, consider planting a bee friendly garden. Bradford pear trees may offer a showy display of spring blooms, but they are not a food source for the bees. Consider planting a bearing fruit tree instead.
These beneficial trees and plants provide sources of nectar and pollen for honey bees.
Trees to plant for bees:
Black locust, linden, magnolia, maple, oak, tulip poplar, willow, and fruit bearing trees such as apples, peaches, and almonds, etc.
Flowers, herbs and more to plant in your bee friendly garden: aster, bee balm, butterfly bush, calendula, catmint, clematis, cosmos, crocus, dahlia, geraniums, honeysuckle, hyacinth, lavender, poppies, phlox, purple coneflower, heritage roses, snapdragons, snowdrops, squash, St. John’s wort, strawberries, sunflowers, and Zucchini.
Wild Botanicals: blackberries, clover, dandelions, goldenrod, plantain
Bees Need Water
Sources of clean water are as important as food to the survival of bees and their colonies. The honey bees we tend collect water from the statue in our koi pond and along the shallow, still edges of the natural, flowing spring. To provide clean water for bees in your vicinity, keep fresh water in a bird bath or place a water feature in your yard. Bees enjoy a drink of water on a hot day, and also use water in the production of honey and larvae food.
About the author:
Deborah Tukua is the editor of Journey to Natural Living and the author of the healthy fresh from the blender recipe book, Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. She is a freelance writer for the Farmers' Almanac and Chiropractic Economics magazine and author of the book, Marketing Strategies for Chiropractic Success.
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