Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Attracting Bees to the Garden


My last post was about attracting butterflies to the garden. In the process of writing it, I thought it would be a good time to write on bees. Over several years of working in my garden, I noticed that I just didn't see many bees. As a kid, I remember having honey bees buzzing around in the white clover that grew in the lawn. I also remember stepping on a few in my bare feet. While working in other people's gardens, I noticed the same thing. The absense of bees. If you have not heard, there is a problem with honey bees called Colony Collapse Disorder. It is not known as to why honey bees are disappearing. It could be environmental, mites, disease, pesticidies or many other things. Why have bees in your garden? Because bees are not aggressive and attracting them to your garden is beneficial.
One year I ventured into a garden nursery and I noticed one plant that was covered in bees. I purchased two and added them to the garden. Over the years I have continued to add more plants that bees are attracted to. If you want to attract bees to your garden, you need to rethink some of the plant colors that you put into your garden. Bees cannot see red. To a bee, red is black or basically not a color. If you have red flowers, they are pollinated by the wind, butterflies, birds or other insects. Bees are skewed to the blue end of the human spectrum. They see in ultraviolet. The flowers in your garden will appear to be a different color to the bees than they appear to you. Plant flowers, shrubs and trees that have blue, purple, yellow, white or violet blooms. Bee have good vision considering that they have five eyes on their heads. Their eyes are made up of three simple eyes and two compound eyes.
Bees are good pollinators and without them we would not have the fruits, flowers, vegetables or honey that we all enjoy. If you collect seed for next years garden, you need the pollinators. Never use pesticides on plants that attract bees or you will kill off your bee population. Diversity of plants is important. When purchasing plants, look for plants with bee on them.
Here are suggested plants that attract bees:
Annuals: Asters, clover, sunflowers, poppies, zinnias, marigolds
Perennials: Buttercups, Clematis, Cosmos, Dahlias, Echinacea, Foxglove, Geraniums, Hollyhocks, Roses, Tansy, Hyssop, Globe thistle
Herbs: Bee Balm, Borage, Catnip, Fennel, Lavender, Mints, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme
Shrubs: Blueberry, Butterfly Bush, Button Bush, Indigo, Privet, Honeysuckle and Blue Beard
Trees: American Holly, Fruit Tree, Eastern Redbud, Golden Rain Tree, Hazels, Catalpa, Black Locust, Lindens
This year plant some new plants for the bees. It will be worth it!
The Creative Gardener

3 comments:

gardenerprogress/Catherine said...

I have noticed less bees too. We have quite a few of the plants you've mentioned. The hyssop really seems to attract them in our garden.

Anna/Flowergardengirl said...

The bees never bother me either. They are just as much a part of the garden as the flowers. I love it.

Jan (Thanks For 2 Day) said...

I love the bees...and enjoy having flowers around to attract them. Bee balm is red (at least that's the color I've had)...so you mean they can't see that bright red? I suppose they pick up a scent from it? I didn't know they couldn't see colors. Thanks for the lesson! I have quite a lot of the plants you mention, but I'll try to remember them just in case I lose some this year. Great info!!