Do you see bees in your yard or garden? If the answer is yes, then you’re the lucky one. The value of bees in agriculture has been known for thousands of years. Bees are the most effective pollinators in the world. They are a valuable resource for gardeners, and you can help to increase their shrinking numbers.
The presence of bees can dramatically increase fruit and vegetable production. Without them, there would be limited flowers and even fewer fruits and vegetables. They make your garden a healthier place, and don’t you just love that subtle buzzing sound?
Bees are generally looking for two things when they visit your place: nectar, which is loaded with sugar to give them energy, and pollen, which rounds out their diet. Many of the hybridized plants we buy at the local nursery that give us “super blooms” have reduced nectar and pollen, and some are even sterile. Native plants are the best for our bees and other living things that help us garden. Heirloom varieties of plants are great.
Sure bees come and visit your yard when they see the flowers, but they are not only attracted by those blooms. The more diverse the variety of flowering plants in your yard, the more they get excited. A combination of flowering trees, shrubs, annuals and perennials will bring in the bees. Bees like your weeds as well as your “real flowers.” So if your aim is to attract more bees and improve the health of our garden, you could think about leaving the weeds like dandelions and white clover to give them pollen and nectar sources. Maybe you can mow these weeds down just after they stop blooming?
Other ideas to keep your bees happy are to limit pesticide use and use the least toxic products available when you must use something. Insecticidal soap and horticultural oil are a good idea. Spray any product in the evening after bees have returned to their nests. Pollinator bees also like a source of water. Plant flowers in clumps to attract more pollinators than individual plants scattered around the yard. Clumps 4 feet square are optimal if you have the space.
Bees loves butterfly bush, buttonbush, redbud trees, hawthorn, apple trees, blackberry bushes, aster, cosmos, borage, crocus, purple coneflowers, fennel, sunflowers, mint, basil, oregano, sage goldenrod, thyme. Bees like sunny spots over shade and like some shelter from strong wind.
We all have memories of a bee sting but much of the sting story is a myth. Only the female bees even have stingers. Stinging is just not as common as you hear. And the friendly bee more than makes up for its bad behavior with its hard work pollinating our world.
For your calendar
A workshop, Beekeeping For Beginners, will be held on Saturday, Aug. 25, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Texas AgriLife Extension Service at 1225 Pearl Street, No. 200. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. The workshop will feature two speakers: Bryan Maldrow will speak on “The Benefits of Backyard Beekeeping” and Benny Rhodes will speak on “Honey Bees and Top Bar Hives.” The cost to attend both sessions is $25, which includes lunch. Seating is limited, so call to reserve your seat at (409) 835-8461.
Joette is an avid gardener and prides herself on staying up-to-date on the latest gardening activities and tips. To share your gardening news with Joette, call (409) 832-1400 or fax her at (409) 832-6222. Her e-mail is joreger [at] msn [dot] com.