Create Your Own Bee Friendly Garden
Oh, the excitement of planning the garden for next season. Some old favorites and maybe some new plants too? I hope you will consider creating a bee friendly garden. The local pollinators will thank you and you will be helping the local ecosystems. Bee friendly gardening may be easier than you think!
Gardening is truly a year round activity. The warmer months are spent planting, weeding and watering. But, garden thoughts continue during the Winter months too.
We have to plan for next season right? That’s why all those seed catalog appear in our mailboxes in January.
While you are planning your garden design, take a few moments to think about the bees. This is an easy opportunity to help your local pollinators.
Small Spaces for Pollinator Flowers
Do you have a large backyard garden? If you have the space, mass plantings of several pollinator-friendly flowers can provide much needed pollen and nectar.
But, even a small bee garden can help. Perhaps, a container garden (like this one? ) on a small patio fits your lifestyle better.
Having several small areas with plants that bloom over a long time is better than having 1 large area of the same plant.
This gives the bees a more diverse diet. And provides a longer term source of food.
Your small backyard garden can be filled with a variety of flowering plants or maybe you have space for a small tree? I have seen bees working my Japanese Maple!
Choose Plants Bees Like Suited for Your Location
You should consider how much space you have and what your climate is like. The most beautiful plants in the wrong location will not flourish.
Stressed plants don’t produce as much nectar for the bees. And, you will be stressed too while trying to make a plant fit in an unsuitable location.
Will you need plants that do well in sun or shade? Some plants are not picky and grow well in either.
What about soil moisture? The water requirements of plants play a role in successful gardening of any type.
If you desire plants that require a lot of moisture, have a plan for irrigation. This might be an installed system or just within reach of a water faucet.
Flowers that Provide Food
Honey bees need 2 types of food. They require nectar and pollen to be healthy and productive.
The flowers of some plants produce both nectar and pollen. However, not every plant provides food for bees.
Honey is made from plant nectar collected by honey bees. Worker bees gather nectar and return it to the hive.
Inside the hive, nectar is converted into honey. Honey is the perfect food for bee to store for Winter.
Plants that produce seed or fruit require pollination. Insects help move the pollen grains from one flower to another. Bees also collect pollen for use in their hives.
Pollen is used as a protein source for many types of bees. Without pollen, no baby bees could be raised.
How to Create A Bee Friendly Garden
Make Use of all the Space Available
When you create a bee friendly garden plan, you will want to fill the space with flowers. However, leave room for you and your visitors to walk or sit.
A lovely bench is a good idea or maybe a small gazebo. Place any sitting spots away from large, pendulous blooming plants.
We enjoy watching the bees and butterflies work. But not everyone wants to get “up close and personal” with stinging insects.
Design wide walkways or paths. This allows humans and pets to walk through your backyard bee garden safely.
Honey bees only sting as a form of defense. Working honey bees are not aggressive but you must respect their personal bee space.
Plan a Water Feature for Your Bees
All pollinators need a water source. If you live in a rural area, your bees may have access to natural water.
However, you may find that they will use a good water source that you provide.
A large birdbath with pebbles around the edge to create a shallow drinking spot is good. But you need to be sure to keep your water source full.
In hot weather, small pools can dry up quickly. And when the weather is hot and dry that’s when our bees need water most.
Consider a Water Garden as a Bee Water Source
Do you have space for a small water garden? A tub or plastic pond form with some plants and a couple of small goldfish will add beauty to your area.
Bees sit on the live plants and sip water from the pond. Any pond of fountain needs a calm place for bees to safely drink.
If you don’t have room for a large pond. This DIY Bee Water Station is easy to build. Any number of bees and butterflies will enjoy a cool sip on a hot day.
Protect the Bees from Poisoning.
Do you use herbicides, pesticides or other chemicals in a nearby area? If so, choose the most harmless types, read the labels and follow directions.
Even better choose non-chemical methods to control undesirable insects when possible.
Perhaps you can use a vinegar weed killer to control some weeds instead of the commercial alternatives.
Prolonged Bloom Period with Added Annuals
Add some variety to your bee garden. Use a combination of plants placed directly in the soil (if possible) and add potted annuals.
You can replace the annuals with others once their bloom time is over. This gives you variety in the garden and provides a continues supply of pollen and nectar for the bees.
Give thought to plants that bloom again and again. This is especially true in late Summer when many annuals are finished.
Best Plants for Bees in Your Area
You can use annual plants that grow, bloom and die in one season. They provide a lot of nectar and/or pollen at one time.
Perennial plants are also a good choice for bees. They bloom and return the next year. A mixture of several different types creates a pleasing display of bee food.
Mixing annual and perennial plants is a good idea. The annual plants produce a lot of food in a short time. The perennials tend to bloom longer and fill in the gaps.
Annual Plants for A Bee Friendly Garden
Annual plants are easily available at local garden centers throughout the growing season.
You can also plant seeds in the soil or in containers and grow annual flowers.
Annuals come in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. Some great annual plants for bees are: Cornflower, Cosmos, Borage, Sunflowers, Zinnia, Salvia, Dahlia, Snapdragons, Sweet Alyssum and many others.
You can even grow gourds for yourself and the bees will enjoy the flowers.
Perennial Plants for A Bee Friendly Garden
Don’t forget to choose some perennial plants for bees for your bee garden. They are not as showy as the annuals but they come back year after year.
Perennial plants to consider are : Echinacea, Thyme, Aster, Yarrow, Lavender, Sedum, Phlox, Agastache and many large shrubs and trees.
Steps for Designing Your Garden for Bees
- make wise use of space
- provide water
- limit pesticide use
- choose plants with a long bloom period
- use plants for your climate
Designing and creating a garden for pollinators is fun. Search out local nurseries and stroll through their plant selections.
Your local garden center may be a good source of plants. Check to be sure that the plant source does not use chemicals harmful to bees!
If you have a large space, maybe you would like to become a beekeeper. A couple of beehives is a great complement to a well-designed garden. Not interested in keeping bees?
That’s okay. Everyone can help the bees and all pollinators by designing bee friendly spaces.