In the throes of the next polar vortex, I think about honeybees and their rapid decline due to habitat loss and pesticide use in the United States. I think about how Europe and South America and Asian countries have already responded to the die off. In China, workers use feather dusters to pollinate. While the government response here is slow,and big chemical companies greedy to make more money on sales of Round Up and other toxics that harm the land, let’s respond this spring by not applying chemicals to lawns and gardens. In fact, lets not try to maintain the manicured lawn that discourages wild bees and birds from nesting in our yards. In particular, gardeners can protest and demand the removal of harmful products from the shelves of major chains like Menards, Wal-Mart, Home Depot and other popular stores. Let’s stop selling Round-up as if it were candy. Let’s educate ourselves and take responsibility for our own gardens and the land where we live, eat and raise our families.
A yard completely manicured and cultivated does not attract wild bees. It is more important and beneficial to provide a small brush pile and a place for native plantings. In addition, plant these flowers to attract bees: bee balm, clover, butterfly weed, alyssum, rudebeckia, asters, coneflowers, black-eyed Susans. Remember, blue, purple and yellow are the most attractive colors to bees, and single petal flowers are the best for attracting bees. Most double petaled flowers offer less pollen than single petal flowers. Vary the plantings, try different plants that bloom in spring, summer and late summer and fall so that there are some varieties in bloom all the growing season.
If you are very ambitious, and you have the space and permission of your neighbors, set up a couple of bee hives at the edge of the yard. Allow them easy access to fly in and out and not be disturbed by people walking by or by vehicular traffic. Take a class in how to care for bees and help restore the neighborhood’s balance of bees. Contribute to the greater good by bringing more bees.
Help on this article came from Gardener’s Supply Company, “Attracting Beneficial Bees,” by Kathy LaLiberte