Are bees endangered? How can we save the bees? What are good flowers for bees? Is your garden bee-friendly? What makes a bee-friendly garden? Help bees and create a bee habitat with bee-friendly plants and flowers. Save the bees!
It’s no secret that the world’s bee population is on the decline. The total number of managed honey bee hives has decreased by 50% since 1940. At the same time, with a growing world population, the demand for pollinators is on the increase. It is estimated that one out of every three mouthfuls of food the world consumes is the direct or indirect result of the hard work of the earth’s busy pollinators.
Nothing makes me happier than to be out in my yard or in my vegetable garden and see and hear these hard-working winged creatures seeking out good flowers for bees. But I have very distinctly noticed a decline in my cucumber and zucchini production over the years. These two vegetables, and many others, very much rely on the work of bees to pollinate their flowers to produce the vegetable.
Bees and flowers go together like salt and pepper! I like to plant many flowers that attract bees in my yard and bee-friendly plants around my garden. I read that a bee will frequent a garden that contains 10 different varieties of pollinator-attracting plants more frequently than it will a garden with just 2 or 3 different plants. It seems our busy, buzzy friends like a true bee habitat with a little variety in their diet!
Speaking of bee habitats, while hiking through Austria on a recent trip, I kept seeing these wonderful insect hotels
all along the way. They are so very beneficial to our pollinator friends that I decided to build one myself. Our DIY Insect Hotel is not just a habitat for pollinators but also a nice piece of lawn art, if I don’t say so myself!
The list of plants that attract bees and other pollinators includes the following. There are many more, and your native bee-friendly plants may be different. Also, there is a website that will provide a list of bee-friendly plants specific to your zip code.
- Flowers year round
flowers for bees: how to make a bee-friendly garden
- Bee Balm
- Lemon Balm
- Anise hyssop
- Astilbe, false spire
- Bee Balm
- Black-eyed Susan
- Blanket flower
- Blazing star
- Butterfly bush
- Butterfly weed
- Chrysanthemum (open types)
- Common poppy, red poppy
- Common yarrow
- Coral bells
- Foxglove or beardtongues
- Garden speedwell
- Globe thistle
- Joe Pye Weed
- Pincushion flower
- Russian Sage
- Stokes aster
- Swamp milkweed
- Sweet alyssum
- Bee’s Friend or Phacelia
- Poppy, Breadseed and California
- Bachelor’s Buttons
- Marigold Choose open or single-flower varieties
- Sunflower, Mexican
- Sweet Alyssum
- Viper’s bugloss
- Butterfly Bush
- Creosote Bush
- Oregon Grape
- Pussy Willow
But here’s the thing that will just make you shake your head. It’s a wonderful thing to create your bee habitat, but any of these bee-attracting plants, sold in big box hardware stores or local nurseries, have been treated with chemicals that are harmful to bees.
Let me get this right, you plant the flower or bush to attract the bees and then you, unwittingly, cause harm to the bees because these plants are laden with harmful chemicals? Who’s in charge here? No wonder our bees are endangered! If we want to understand how to save the bees, not poisoning them is a good first step! Save the bees!
Home Depot has recently begun labeling plants that are treated with neonicotinoids (a class of chemicals that have been proven to cause impairment to bee brain cells and their ability to build colonies). More than 30 separate scientific studies have found a link between the neonicotinoids, which attack insects’ nerve systems and falling bee numbers.
I went to Home Depot today and found these little ‘tags’ stuck in the soil of several bee friendly plants that I would have purchased in the past. I applaud Home Depot for labeling the plants, but be warned that these are easily pulled out of the soil. So, what’s bee-loving gardener to do?
I guess we just need to inform ourselves. I called and emailed Bonnie Plants, whose vegetable plants seem to be in most large stores, this morning. This is the response I received from them:
Bonnie Plants does not utilize any form of systemic neonicotinoid pesticides/insecticides (neonicotinoids class includes; acetamiprid, clothianidin, imidacloprid, nitenpyram, nithiazine, thiacloprid, dinotefuran and thiamethoxam) in the nationwide, greenhouse production of transplants. Neonicotinoids are not contained in any seed nor are they utilized in any stage of the growing process.
Also, this year, Home Depot is requiring all live plant vendors to label plants with stick tags that indicate plants were grown using neonics, if neonics were utilized in the growing process (see press release here: http://www.environmentalleader.com/2014/07/01/home-depot-to-require-neonicotinoids-labeling/) As we do not use neonics you will see no such labeling on Bonnie Plants at Home Depot stores, nationwide. To date, other retailers have not required live good vendor labeling of neonics use, however, you can be assured, Bonnie Plants, available at any/all retailers we supply, nationwide, does not utilize any neonics.
Yay for Bonnie!!! At the end of the day, I’d love to see the US follow the lead of the EU who banned some neonicotinoid chemicals for a 2 year period in order to study the scientific data more fully.
(Update 4/9/2015 from the Charlotte Observer: “Following letters and petitions from environmental groups, Lowe’s Home Improvement said Thursday it plans to phase out products that contain certain chemicals shown to be harmful to bees.” They estimate it will take them 4 years to slowly phase out the toxins, but it a great step in the right direction.)