Tips for Beginning Gardeners

How to Make a Space That Bees Will Love

For the good of your health, your yard, and the planet, you should strongly consider starting a garden that caters to the world's best pollinators, the bees.

Beginning a garden may sound intimidating, but it's pretty simple if you go in with a plan and a little bit of know-how.

Bee Friendly Gardening Tips

Here are some essential tips for making sure your first garden will be a place that bees will love.

Make use of the space you have

Not everyone has the yard space to plant a giant bee garden.

Some live in smaller homes with smaller plots - especially city-dwellers. There are plenty of ways to make use of the space you have, however.

Plant flowers in planters, pots, hanging baskets, window boxes, and up walls (flowering vines).

Stack planters if you can, as you're likely to have more space vertically than horizontally. For more tips on how to make use of a small garden space, check here.

Know when flowers bloom and plant smart

Those new to gardening may not know that plants don't bloom all year and that most plants have specific times of the year that they're in bloom.

Primrose, for instance, will bloom in early spring and then be done for the year. A black-eyed susan, on the other hand, won't bloom until the end of summer.

You want to know the blooming schedules of common flowers so that you can plant smartly.

Always have at least some flowers in bloom in your garden, so that bees will always have a place to stop and collect pollen & nectar.

Here's a nice bloom schedule guide to get you started.

Think about the bees' preferences

Sure, you want your garden to contain the flowers you think are pretty or the fruits and vegetables that you want to eat, but if you're truly doing this for the bees then you need to think about their preferences when it comes to plants.

There are three characteristics that bees love when it comes to flowers.

  • First, while honeybees are attracted to a variety of plants, other types of bees go crazy for native plants (plants local to their specific area).

  • Next, bees love fragrant, colorful flowers. Blues, purples, and whites are among their favorites.

  • Finally, bees like flowers that are easily accessible, so the more complex the petal/interior structure, the worse they are for bees.

Here's a good place to start when picking plants bees are known to love.

Why should I start a bee-friendly garden?

So you're armed with some tips, now why should you do the work?

Beyond the numerous mental and physical health benefits of taking up gardening as a hobby, doing what you can to help your local bee population is one of the most environmentally-friendly actions you can undertake.

Bees, as our most important animal pollinators, have a hand in pollinating at least one out of every three bites of food you consume.

At least 70% of the top crops, globally, depends on bees at least in some part.

Bees are in danger, as habitat destruction, pesticide use, and food shortages due to climate change have reduced their populations globally.

Starting a garden in your own backyard may not be easy (it takes time, know-how, and some physical labor) but it's an investment that is worth the effort.

Growing plants from seed, bulb, or nursing adult plants to greater health is a great way to teach you and your kids about life, produce beautiful flowers, grow healthy food, and protect one of our greatest natural allies - the bees.

Guest Post - about the author;

Maria has suffered from depression and anxiety for years. Her hobbies--like gardening--play a major role in maintaining her mental health.

See more about Maria on her website Hobby JR.

Here's an excerpt from an article in the newsletter, The Frill Free Zone

Welcome to another edition of The Frill Free Zone Newsletter, this time we're buzzing about "bee friendly gardening tips".

Let's dive into this sweet nectar of knowledge and attract some pollinators to our gardens. Bees are crucial to pollinating much of our planet's food, so let's create homes for them filled with passion, vibrancy and of course, blooming flowers.

Spring bulbs like Crocus, Snowdrops, and Grape Hyacinths make an early appearance in the garden providing a rich food source when bees emerge from hibernation. They are the perfect way to kick-start "gardening for wildlife" in the new season.

Shrubs like willows are beautiful in their own right, as well as useful, but did you know they are a pollen source for many pollinators and wild bees emerging from hibernation?

Watch the tips of willows for the flowers (you might notice the pussies first) and see who visits the most.

Following the admirable stage-setting by spring bulbs comes a summer palette full of options. Lavender, with its heady fragrance and purple blooms, is a bee haven. Similarly, Borage provides an abundant nectar source, and Echinacea with its stunning pink coneflowers, prove irresistible to bees.

As the growing season advances, late bloomers gain importance. Sunflowers and Coneflowers bloom till autumn, providing consistent food sources. Sedums, with their succulent leaves and star-shaped flowers, bloom late into autumn when many other plants are already spent.

You're likely wondering - where do bees go in winter? Rest easy, they've got it covered. Honeybees cluster together in their hive generating heat and consuming honey stored from summer. Solitary bees, on the other hand, tuck themselves into hollow stems or ground crevices. Another good reason to wait until spring to do a cleanup of fallen stems of herbaceous perennials.

Winter preparations include leaving spent flowers with seeds and foliage for natural insulation.

Leaving patches of bare soil helps ground-dwelling bees. Also, consider setting up bee hotels with various sized bamboo shoots for solitary species.

Planting a variety of native species with varying blooming times ensures sustained flower availability. Remember, an empty table doesn't make for good guests; continuity in bloom is key for successful "pollinator gardening".

Let's introduce an element of water in our bee-friendly garden. Bees need water to drink and to maintain hive temperature. Create a bee bath by placing pebbles in a shallow dish of water, giving them a place to land while drinking.

Reduce pesticide use or switch to organic ones. Many pesticides can be harmful or fatal to bees. If it's necessary to use them, avoid spraying during daytime when bees are active.

This includes using Diatomaceous Earth, which is used to kill many bugs and insects.  It also kills beneficial insects too. Use it in the early morning before bees emerge, and only on still days with no wind.

Apart from plants, our gardens can accommodate other bee-friendly features. Try loosely stacked wood, log piles, or dry stone walls. These features not only create more natural habitats but also make your garden aesthetically appealing.

Last, but not least, spread the word. Share these tips and inspire others to be bee-friendly. Bee-keeping is not just for country-dwellers, it can be introduced into urban spaces too. Let’s remember to recreate those childhood garden memories by focusing on simplicity and nurturing our surroundings. Incorporate some of these bee friendly gardening tips and see your garden buzz with life!

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