Tips for Planting Bee-Friendly Gardens

European_honey_bee_extracts_nectarExperts say that the domestic honey bee population has declined nearly 50 percent in the last 50 years. Wild honey bees, bumble bees and other pollinators have also experienced losses. While the causes have been debated, lack of available nectar and pollen sources due to urbanization has been identified as a significant factor.

Bees and other pollinators play an essential role in the nation’s food supply. Honey bees are responsible for pollinating fruits, nuts and vegetables that feed humans, birds and other wildlife. It is estimated that bees contribute to the production of a third of the food we eat. They also add to the diversity of flowering plants we enjoy around our homes and gardens.

Here are a few tips for creating a pollinator-friendly habitat in your garden:

  • Plant flowers that are native to where you live.
  • Combine plants that will bloom from early spring to fall (even in winter in milder climates) to provide a consistent food source.
  • Include diverse colors, fragrances and shapes. Bees are attracted to blue, purple, white and yellow. Butterflies love red and purple blooms.
  • Plant in full sun.
  • Plant generously. Large groupings of flowers are more attractive than single plants.
  • Plant non-hybrid flowers. (Hybrids may have less fragrance, nectar or pollen.)
  • Provide food and water.
  • Follow label instructions on pesticides and avoid spraying when pollinators are active.

*Tips developed by author and garden expert Lance Walheim, whose books include Citrus and The Natural Rose Gardener among others. Lance is currently the garden expert for Bayer Advanced™ lawn and garden products.