Looking to plant a bee garden in your home? Bees are crucial to the delicate balance of Earth’s ecosystem and with the bee population declining rapidly, it’s important to make changes in our lives to support these hard-working pollinators. Luckily, there are many ways you can attract more bees and other pollinators to your garden to give a helping hand to the bee population.
We’ve put together a step-by-step guide to get started on your own bee-friendly space:
Focus On Native Plants
Before planting, do some research on what is native to your area. Native plants are good for bees and bee-friendly gardens because pollinators have evolved with native plants. As a result, the plants and the bees have both adapted to the climate, seasons, and soils.
Knowing a climate or region’s native plants means that bees know when plants will flower and when they will have nectar and pollen, an important food source for bees. Bees plan their spring emergence based on the weather and when plants are in bloom. With more severe weather, this is getting harder for bees to determine, so native plants are your best bet for attracting more bees. Additionally, non-native plants may not create enough nectar or pollen to sustain pollinators or may be inedible.
Stay Away from Pesticides and Herbicides
Pesticides are a huge threat to bees and other pollinators. Unfortunately, the United States still allows many chemicals that are banned in other parts of the world like the European Union. While you may use pesticides in your garden to deter other unwanted pests, these chemicals can’t discern a slug from honey bees and eliminate all insects from your garden.
Here are a few ways you can keep pests out of your garden naturally.
Be sure to remove decaying plants or fruit right away, keep your compost bin away from your bee garden and if plants appear to be struggling, relocate or remove them. While it’s important to have your compost bin away from flowers, you can use its rich soil, or mulch, to top-dress your plant beds to encourage healthy plant growth.
This one isn’t a sure bet for deterring slugs and snails, but worth a try – some gardeners swear by this easy trick, but different things work for different gardens. You’ll need to give it a shot in your own space to see if it works for you. Copper tape can be fixed around your pots or plant beds to keep out slugs and snails, supposedly creating an unpleasant chemical reaction on their skin, causing them to avoid it.
Using a natural fertilizer like seaweed fertilizer is a great way to nourish plants and promote development. Unlike other fertilizers, seaweed fertilizer has naturally occurring growth stimulants. It’s packed with minerals, complex carbohydrates, and nutrients that will give your plants a much-needed boost and improve crop yield. Plus, it’s a natural deterrent of slugs and snails due to its salt content and crispy edges once dry.
Depending on the size and severity of the pests in your garden, a natural spray may be effective. You can make your own at home; for example, if you have problems with mites, try a spicy pepper spray.
Simply mix two teaspoons of hot pepper sauce with a few drops of biodegradable dish soap and a quart of water and let it sit overnight. The following day, add it to a spray bottle and apply it to your plants.
Other natural options include a neem oil spray, simple soap spray, or even garlic spray to rid your garden of pesky unwelcome insects.
Grow Plants Bees Love
When planting your bee garden, include plants bees love like lavender, sunflowers, and chives. It’s also important to plant flowers that bloom at different times of the year. This way, bees will thrive and visit your garden for food more than just once a year or season.
Don't Forget the Fruits and Vegetables
Having a wide variety of plants in your garden is a great way to promote bee visits to your garden, so why not add some fruits and veggies to your plant beds? This way you not only encourage bees to visit your garden, but you also get delicious food out of it.
Let Those Weeds Be
Most people don’t enjoy the weeding process of gardening, and now you have an excuse to skip it – plus, the bees will thank you. Bees love certain weeds and wildflowers like dandelions, so let them grow and attract more bees to your garden. Other weeds to consider leaving in the ground are creeping thyme, wild geranium, and bee balm.
Bees are a key part of our ecosystem, so it’s more important than ever to support their population. By planting bee gardens in our homes we create a little haven for this threatened species.
Find out more about the importance of our tiny friends.