Bees are the most prolific pollinators on the planet and every gardener’s best friend. The majority of flowering plants in the world need the help of pollinating animals like bees to reproduce, and they pleasantly add a gentle buzz to the air.
So how do you make sure that your local bee population visits your yard more often?
Provide Drinking Water for Bees
Bees need a surprising amount of water every day to drink and control the thickness of their honey. Add an outdoor water feature to your yard using water-conserving landscaping and remember that bees cannot swim and need something to land on. Water lilies and other floating vegetation make for great natural floating platforms for bees to stop and get some water from a pond or stream.
Diversify your plants
If there’s one thing that bees are always on the lookout for, it’s flowers. To keep the bees visiting your yard from early spring to the end of summer, it is important to plant a wide variety of flowers. Different types of flowering plants will bloom at different times of the year. Keeping a variety of bloom times in your yard will keep the bees coming back throughout the year.
Use non-toxic Pest Control Methods
Even if a chemical pesticide is not strong enough to kill something as large as a bee, it will still be toxic to them and affect their health.
Pesticides that are safe for bees typically use one of the following ingredients as the key active component:
● Garlic ● Corn gluten ● Kaolin clay ● Bacillus thuringiensis
Similarly, you should avoid any pesticides containing any of the following ingredients:
● Rotenone ● Diatomaceous earth ● Boric acid ● Adjuvants ● Neem
● Pyrethrins ● Copper sulfate ● Copper ● Horticultural vinegar
●Sabadilla ● Spinosad ● Insecticidal soaps and oils ● Boric acid
You can also encourage other insects and birds that prey on the pest insects to come to your yard. Most insectivorous animals are not interested in bees, and predators that do eat bees you wouldn’t want in your yard anyway, like skunks and wasps.
Use local Native Plants
Local plants generally require less maintenance to keep healthy as they are already adapted to the regional climate, and they are also better for the bees.
Your local bee populations are adapted to find plants that grow naturally in their environment. Local plant nurseries and gardening stores should be able to advise you on finding flowers for your yard that are native to the region and are most attractive to bees.
Grow flowers that attract bees
While fragrance is important, there are other aspects of a plant that help bees decide where to land, like the flower’s shape. Bees generally prefer flowers with shallow, flat blossoms. These are easy to see and access and provide fewer places for a bee’s natural predators to hide.
Bees also prefer flowers with blue, purple, or yellow petals. There are exceptions though. You might need to experiment a little to see which flowers the bees are most interested in.
Just like humans, bees don’t like excess heat. Heat exhaustion is one of the main reasons you tend to find more bees stuck on the ground and unable to fly on a hot day, where they are vulnerable to predators. Creating more leafy shade from trees, bushes, and shrubbery can give tired bees a life-saving spot to rest and cool off before continuing on their journey.