Every gardener knows the vital role bees play in growing a thriving garden. Of course, the importance of bees goes beyond gardening. More importantly, over 150 crops grown in the US depend directly on these pollinators. The trouble is that we’ve lost nearly half of the population of managed pollinator bee colonies in the past decade or so.
If you are an avid gardener like me, you’ll be gutted to learn that our favorite pollinators are in trouble. While there are more than 4,000 species of native bees in the U.S., all of their populations are in grave decline. Studies show that diseases, parasites, overexposure to pesticides, and decimation of bee habitats are to blame for the decline. What a wake-up call for us gardeners, right?
How Gardeners can Help Boost Pollinator Numbers
Thankfully, gardeners are in an excellent position to help curb the severe decline of pollinator bees. How so? In this blog post, we are going to walk you through six ways you can turn your garden into a haven for pollinators.
#1. Grow Diverse Plants
If you want to attract pollinators year-round, it is crucial that you embrace the art of diverse planting. Remember not all pollinators are active in spring or fall. That’s why it pays to grow a variety of flowering plants in your garden. More specifically, make sure that these plants bloom at different times of the year, from as early as the onset of spring to as late as when the last leaf falls.
What’s more, include plants of different heights, flower sizes, and shapes to lure in the full spectrum of beneficial bees. The trick is to grow a blend of both flowering shrubs and trees.
#2. Create a Nurturing Habitat
While you want to keep a well-kempt backyard, you might not be providing pollinators with an ideal habitat. To attract more bees, leave areas of dry reeds and grasses, a small brush pile, and perhaps a dead wood where pollinators can nest. Don’t forget to include a muddy puddle where they can get a sip of water.
#3. Grow Native Plants Species and Wildflowers
Most pollinators love wildflowers and native species. That because they have evolved together over the years, and they find them to be excellent sources of shelter and nectar.
#4. Avoid Pesticides
Most pesticides are bee killers. Instead, use non-toxic methods like handpicking, trapping, etc. You can also control pest through cultural techniques such as row covers and crop rotation.
#5. Bring the Bees to your Backyard
If it’s not too much trouble, consider beekeeping. It goes perfectly well with gardening.
#6. Pick Pollinator-Attracting Colors
It turns out, honey bees and other pollinators love yellow, purple, and blue flowers. Plants from the mint family are amazing attractors of long-tongued bees. But, shallow or flat blossoms like zinnias, daisies, and asters will do the trick for most pollinators.