Bees are very misunderstood; many people are scared of them and would rather swat them than help them thrive. However, bees are a very important part of our food production system, and because they are dying out at an alarming rate, scientists are worried that we’ll soon have trouble pollinating some of the most common foods in the U.S., including blueberries, apples, several varieties of nut, and herbs.
That’s why it’s very important for us to help these little creatures thrive as much as possible so they can keep doing their jobs. You don’t have to become a beekeeper to help them; simply creating a garden space where they can rest, drink, and fuel up is more than enough. It doesn’t have to be a huge space, either; if you live in the city or don’t have much room in your yard, you can plant a small section of wildflowers or an herb box in your window.
Here are some of the best ways you can get started with a bee garden.
Do some research
One of the easiest ways to get a feel for what you’ll need in your garden is to go to the outdoor center at a home improvement store and take a look at where the bees are clustered. They tend to enjoy wildflowers, daisies, marigolds, and hosta, which have a flat surface and produce much more nectar than double-headed flowers. Do some research on what type of sun these flowers need to thrive, how much to water them, and when the plant them. It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with pesticides and the harm they can do to bees.
If you don’t have much room or are concerned about your lack of a green thumb, consider starting small and create one window box full of herbs or a group of wildflowers. You can also place a small bowl of water with some protruding rocks in it on your patio or stoop to give the bees a place to rest and get a drink without drowning. Just make sure your pets and kids stay away from it.
Replace flowers with veggies
If you’re interested in reaping a reward from your hard work, replace some of the flowers in your front yard with vegetables that have a pretty bloom. These will blend in with the rest of your garden and your neighbors will never know they’re edible. Just be sure to plant these well away from the sidewalk so that passing pooches won’t use them when they lift their legs. Kale is a great veggie to plant in your garden, because bees love it and the blooms are a fragrant and cheery yellow.
Support your local farmers
It’s important to support your local farmers and beekeepers, since they work hard to grow the food we eat and keep these important little creatures safe and happy. Go to the local farmer’s market for your fruits and veggies (the ones you don’t grow, of course!) as well as honey, and show your support all through the year by offering to foster a beehive. Many beekeepers will ask for an annual fee to help them continue to care for the insects in exchange for jars of honey or other goods.
Keeping bees alive and thriving is imperative for our food production system, as about ⅓ of the food we consume every day relies on bees in some way, whether it’s to grow or to provide food for animals. Start your garden and help spread the word about how important bees are in your community.
Photo via Pixabay