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How to Make a Bee 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 reserving a least a small space to make a bee 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.
Ideas to Consider for Your Bee Garden Plan
- make wise use of space
- use plants suitable for your climate
- choose plants with a long bloom period
- a small pond or water garden
Backyard Spaces for Pollinator Flowers
When you create a bee garden plan, of course you 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.
Planting Wild Spaces That Grow Freely
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.
A small meadow of mixed flowers provides bloom throughout the warm season. Planted close together this “wild area” of the yard should not need much maintenance.
However, this is not for everyone of course and you may not have extra space that can “go wild”.
Your small backyard garden might have room for a small flowering tree that feeds bees. I have seen bees working my Bloodgood Japanese Maple and I didn’t even realize that it had tiny flowers!
Container Gardens Benefit Bees
Even a small bee garden can help. Perhaps, a container garden (like this one? ) on a small patio fits your lifestyle better.
Containers can grow beautiful flowers to brighten your outdoor space as well as feeding bees. And you can grow some types of vegetables right on your patio.
This provides food for visiting bees and perhaps some food for you as well. In addition to patio fruit bushes and trees, squash, cucumbers and many herbs benefit from bee pollination.
Choose Plants Suited for Your Location
You should consider how much space you have and what your climate is like. The most beautiful bee 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.
Annuals and Perennial Flowers That Bees Enjoy
Honey bees need plant nectar and pollen. Honey is made from plant nectar and stored for Winter food.
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. You can plant seeds in the soil or in containers.
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 luffa gourds for yourself and the bees will enjoy the flowers.
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.
Perennial plants to consider are : Echinacea, Thyme, Aster, Yarrow, Lavender, Sedum, Phlox, Agastache and many large shrubs and trees.
Consider leaving a few blooming weeds that attract bees. They provide nectar and pollen for hungry bees.
Plan a Water Feature for Your Bees
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.
Suggestions for water in your bee garden:
- A large birdbath with pebbles around the edge to create a shallow drinking spot
- medium sized water garden with water, plants and fish
- smaller craft sized water sources
Bird baths and medium sized fountains can be a viable addition to the pollinator garden. While not providing a lot of water, they are beneficial to thirsty bees.
Using a medium to larger size basin with a shallow place (small rocks, gravel etc) to collect water is a good choice because it does not have to be refilled so often.
Do you have space for a small water garden (this one is a nice size)? A tub or plastic pond form with some plants 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 have more room, build a small pond and add a few goldfish.
Bee Craft Water Features
While not practical for a yard with several beehives, these water ideas are really cute and something the kids can help make. They also make cute gifts for bee loving friends.
Final Thoughts on Bee Garden Design Ideas
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!
A couple of beehives is a great complement to a well-designed garden – maybe you would like to become a beekeeper.
Not interested in keeping bees? That’s okay. Everyone can help the bees and all pollinators by designing small bee garden spaces.