Do you have fruit trees that used to fruit well but are no longer producing much or any fruit? Perhaps your vegetable garden isn’t as lush as it once was, with fewer vegetables or smaller, misshapen ones. Before you dig out the fertilizer, or give up all together, call in the air force: bees.
Attracting bees to the garden is like hiring a work force of full-time gardeners to help produce the strongest, most beautiful plants and healthiest vegetables. These hardworking insects, along with other pollinators, are the smartest thing you can cultivate in your garden, because they will do much of the work for you.
Plant for the Bees
The first step is to choose plants for your garden that attract bees and plant them in a sunny spot. There are so many varieties out there of flowering plants that bees love, and they differ between climates. One way you can figure out what plants to choose for your garden is to visit a nursery and look for the bees. Observe which plants they are buzzing around at the garden center and bring a bunch of them home. It’s better to plant a number of the same plants than many different varieties as bees are attracted to larger expanses of one kind of flower.
Another idea is to purchase annual bee mix wildflower seeds and spread them around your garden. The seeds in bee mixes are chosen because bees love them, but also because the bloom in succession. Scatter the seeds in the perennial garden or in a few pots to set around the garden, and they will keep the bees happy all summer long.
Make a Bee Bath
Creating a bee-friendly garden means more than just planting flowers. You certainly want to attract them with gorgeous blooms, but while they are in your garden you will want to give them a place to drink.
Add rocks to a shallow dish or bowl so that they sit above clean water to give the bees a place to perch. If you have a problem with aphids, the water will attract beneficial insects so place the dish near the plant with the aphid problem to help them wash down the feast!
Shelter for the Bees
To keep bees in your garden, give them a place to nest and breed. You can make your own by filling a wood box with rolls of paper or cut bamboo reeds, or buy one that looks as beautiful as it is functional.
Don't Sting Me!
Bees often get a bad reputation from being confused with wasps. Bees are gentle creatures that only sting to defend themselves from harm such as being grabbed or trampled. Wasps can be a bit more aggressive, but even so, unless you provoke them, they won’t start attacking you. Bees and wasps don’t get angry, they simply defend themselves. Show them respect and care and you should not get stung.
Protect the Bees
It goes without saying that an organic garden is better for bees. Using pesticides in your garden will only continue to hurt the bee population and kill the pollinators that will help you grow healthy, strong plants. If you would like some pesticide-free pest control ideas, check out this guide on DIY Traps to Get Rid of Annoying Summer Pests.
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