One of the most common questions beekeepers get asked is what plants are good for bees. Not every lover of honey or bee advocate wants to become a beekeeper to help with the honeybee population. And that’s totally acceptable! You can have a desire to help the environment and encourage bee life without donning a beekeeper suit and tending to colonies in your backyard.
It is possible to create a bee-friendly garden in your own backyard that not only serves pollinators but also helps the community and even the planet.
Without bees around to pollinate over 30 percent of the world’s food crops, not to mention the vast majority of wildflowers and plants, we would quickly notice their absence. Honey bees are responsible for pollinating the majority of the fruits and vegetables we know and love.
It’s not just fresh okra, strawberries, and watermelon missing from our tables, but the food products of those crops will disappear from stores faster than grandma can clip coupons.
What can be done to help our little buzzing friends? Planting nectar producing, flowering plants in your yard or garden are an excellent way to encourage honey bees to continue their essential work.
What’s great about planting for bees and other pollinators is that it is something beekeepers and gardeners can both do!
Your next hobby could be taking up gardening, and maybe you want to plant the right kind of flowers and plants for honey bees to collect nectar from and pollinate.
Gardening is not a passive hobby (if you want to do it responsibly and successfully, i.e., have stuff grow). There will be things to manage outside of planting seeds and watering the ground.
When planting bee-friendly flowers like sunflowers and marigolds as well as flowering plants such as watermelons, blackberries, strawberries, blueberry shrubs, honeysuckles, and indigo, it’s best to have a variety and to plant according to the season. Ideally, the goal is to have some plant flowering throughout the year, so nectar is available. Honey bees are most active in the spring and summer, but slow down or completely halt their productivity during the winter.
You should also prepare yourself for the other visitors you will have when planting a garden with honey bees in mind—they aren’t the only pollinators. You can expect to see butterflies and birds, which is quite lovely, but depending on your feelings toward bats, moths, beetles, remind yourself it is all a part of nature.
It is also essential to have water nearby for the honey bees. They need to hydrate! If you don’t have a peaceful stream nearby or a neighborhood pond, a birdbath will do the trick.
Another thing to consider is pesticide and insecticide use. Many bee advocates advise against using them in your garden because most are extremely toxic to bees. They also leave lasting effects on the soil around it. If you have to use a pesticide or insecticide, be selective and look for those that are explicitly not toxic to honey bees.