Creating a Bee-Friendly Garden

Bee visiting a flower

Before you plan your garden this year, brush up on the plight of the honeybee via this great TED Talk by Dr. Marla Spivak of the University of Minnesota. As Dr. Spivak says at the end of the talk, even if you don’t want to commit to being a beekeeper, you can help save the bees simply by planting bee-friendly flowers. Bees get their food from flowers – nectar (the bee’s main source of energy) and pollen (which provides proteins and fats). Remember that flowers can be found on many different types of plants including fruits and vegetables, herbs, shrubs and trees. And don’t be so quick to eliminate the dandelions that appear on your lawn early in the Spring – it’s a favorite of the bees and one of the first flowers to bloom each year, providing them with the food they need after a long winter. Not sure where to start? There are many resources to help you discover the best plants for bees in your region and other pointers to keep in mind when planning a pollinator-friendly garden.

A few tips to keep in mind:

  • Be sure to choose plants that bloom at different times of the year so the bees will always have a food source available.

  • A variety of flower shapes and sizes will help the bees, as different types of bees have different tongue lengths.

  • Educate yourself about the retailers who sell bee-friendly plants and choose your source for seeds or plants carefully. Make sure the ones you buy do not contain bee-toxic pesticides. Buy from stores and garden centers who make an effort to sell seeds and plants that are safe for the bees. This organization has found a creative way to distribute seeds for bee-friendly plants.

As the weather gets warmer, get outside and get planting – the bees are depending on it! For more tips on creating a bee-friendly garden, check out the Gardening Mentor for more information on how to get started.