How to Make a Bee Friendly Garden
One of the best things you can do to help bees is practice bee friendly gardening. This may include making the effort to create a bee garden especially for pollinators but also to implement bee safe practices in an existing garden. It is not only honey bees that benefit from our outside spaces. A good garden design can produce beauty or food for you and help provide food and habitat for beneficial insects.
What is a Bee Friendly Garden?
A bee friendly garden is an outdoor space that has plants and flowers that attract bees. These plants provide food in the form of nectar and pollen. They may also provide nesting material or other types of bee habitat.
In addition, any garden that is managed to benefit bees and other pollinators avoids the use of dangerous chemicals such as herbicides and pesticides.
A bee garden does not have to be just for our winged friends. Perhaps, it is a quiet space that is designed for your enjoyment. Yet, it is still welcoming and non-harmful to bees and other pollinators.
Having a large variety of insects, butterflies and birds enjoy your garden is a good thing. In most cases, these visitors will not disturb your enjoyment of the area.
It is also important to consider that they may be times when you wish to have plants that repel bees or are less attractive to bee visitors.
This can be because of someone in the family being allergic to bees stings. Having plants near human walkways that are a bit less attractive to our winged friends is a good idea for some gardeners.
How Can You Make a Garden More Bee Friendly?
- plant flowers that attract bees
- use fewer chemicals
Encourage more bees to visit your outdoor space by planting flowers that attract bees. Not every flower provides nectar or pollen to feed bees.
Another important factor in developing a safe bee space is to limit the use of harsh chemicals. Some pesticides and herbicides are deadly to bees and other foraging insects – read the labels.
Why Are There No Bees in Your Garden?
How many bees visit your garden will depend on your local conditions. Some areas have more pollinator insects than others.
In some cases, planting a wide variety of plants that bees like will increase your bee population.
And, some serious gardeners want to have more pollinators so badly that they even become beekeepers and have their own bee hives.
Bee Garden Design Ideas
A bee garden may be a collection of flower pots sitting on a back porch or a wildflower meadow covering many acres.
No matter the size of your garden, you can make a difference in the lives of area pollinators. A good design regardless of size or shape, will meet the needs of garden visitors.
When bees visit your garden, they are looking for resources needed by the colony. This applies to honey bees that live in a large family but also solitary bees.
When you are creating your bee friendly garden space, consider the needs of the bees.
When planning any garden area, you may not always have the perfect location. That’s okay, use problem areas to develop mini bee gardens.
If you have a wet area that is difficult to maintain consider creating a rain garden. Including suitable plants that provide pollen or nectar will benefit any bees in the area.
Plant Flowers That Produce Food for Bees
While it may seem that any flower is beneficial to bees, that is not true. Some plants provide nectar or pollen or maybe both. But some blooms provide little or no bee food at all!
Some plants are wind pollinated and do not rely on insects – they have no reason to secrete sweet nectar.
Learn how to identify which flowers are most attractive to bees. Also, give some thought to choosing the most suitable plants for your region.
Beyond choosing flowers that attract bees, you can also consider bloom time. Choose a variety of different flowers for bees that bloom through a long season.
When you are choosing plants for the yard, don’t forget larger items. Flowering shrubs can provide habitat for many insects and food for bee too!
If you have a lot of space, you may have room for one of the flowering trees that help bees by providing pollen or nectar. Some of them are smaller understory trees that can be very useful as a food source.
Water Sources in the Bee Garden
Honey bees are very good at finding sources of water. However, providing a clean water source for bees is easy to do.
Small Water Stations for the Bees
Even a very small garden has room for a water feature that can provide a drink for bees. This simple build a bee waterer project is fun for kids and a great way to teach them about the importance of bees.
Another great idea for a water source is a fun garden craft using a terra cotta pot and saucer. This bee water station is larger and provides water for a longer time.
Large Water Features Provide Water for Bees
Are you a beekeeper – or you have a lot of bees in your area? You need a larger water source.
If you have a couple of hives in the backyard you need to think big! Large fountains or small water gardens are one way to provide water for bees and other pollinators. It should be large enough to not need filling every day.
Water gardens are a beautiful addition to any garden. They can provide water and maybe some bee food too!
Consider experimenting with some water plants. I enjoy growing lotus tubers in my bee garden.
Bee Friendly Weed Control
What is a weed? For the gardener, that really depends on your point of view. Keep in mind that many “weeds” feed bees – perhaps you can leave some natural areas.
However, if you must do something for weed control, consider all of the alternatives. Some types of weed killers are safer for bees than others and always apply late in the day when most bees have stopped foraging.
Use care when choosing any type of pesticides or weed killers. Homemade herbicides such as, vinegar weed killer, are not as effective as commercial types but they will work.
Anytime you can use mulches or cover crops to reduce the use of weed killers, that is a good thing to do.
Special Garden Projects That Benefit Bees
Sometimes it is fun to “think outside the box” when it comes to creating bee garden spaces. Choosing a plant that feed bees and provides something extra for you is a great way to share with our bees.
Growing herbs is a popular activity for many gardeners. Many flowering herbs can be grown in small places or even pots. Bees enjoy the blooms and you reap the benefits of fresh herbs for the kitchen.
If you are interested in something unusual that brings extra excitement to the garden. Grow Sponges – What Fun! I have had quite an experience growing Luffas Gourds for Bees each season.
Bee Garden Activities
Having a bee friendly garden does not have to be a project for only 1 person. Get the whole family involved – it is a great learning experience for children and helps them develop a deeper appreciation for bees.
Hummingbird Feeders and Bees
Hummingbird feeders are a popular feature during the Summer months. But, sometimes the bees and the birds can clash. Both hunger for sweet nectar and if the bees are having trouble finding food – problems arise.
No worries, if you experience any problems consider these tips to keep bees away from hummingbird feeders.
Seed Balls or Seed Bombs For More Flowers
When creating bee friendly gardening plans, you don’t have to be stuck in one spot. You can spread the plant love around and help diversify bee food sources near and far.
Learning how to make seed balls with soil and red clay is a fun activity for all ages. This is a great way to spread patches of wildflowers around in a natural setting.
Another method of doing some bee friendly gorilla gardening is by making seed bombs with air dry clay. These make great gardening gifts and are so simple the kids can help.
Final Tips for Bee Friendly Gardening
These are just a few tips for bee friendly gardening that anyone can put into action. A good design involves many aspects.
Choosing the best flowers that bees love for your garden and providing cover and water are all important factors. Every flower counts – you can make a difference!
In fact, your bee garden can play a big role in helping save bees and other pollinators in your region.