There's no time like now when it comes to welcoming the bees into your garden for the honey-making season ahead. Hungry foragers are out in droves making a beeline to the flowers richest in nectar and pollen that they can find.
A lengthy winter is barely behind us in the northern hemisphere, and it was brutally extreme in some areas. So this is the ideal backyard project and the perfect time to plant a pollinator garden.
There is an added benefit for humans. After a full year of dealing with varying degrees of lockdown, isolation, lack of sunlight and fresh air and contact with nature, now you can break free of the weariness of pandemic stress and decompress in the wild, even if it is just in your own garden.
The benefit for pollinators is that you will create a nectar and pollen haven for them, and a serene place that is safe and supportive to their needs.
That seems like the least we can do for bees, those darling little insects that provide one out of each three bites of food we consume. Not to mention the delicious honey they share with us. The pollinator garden you create for them is also important to human survival, since 44% of honeybee colonies lost in 2019 and 2020, according to beekeepers. That is an alarming percentage.
Since many of the greatest challenges that honeybees face are due to people, like pesticides, monocultures, and habitat loss, turning your lawn into a pollinator-friendly patch of wild flowers with borders and flowerbeds filled with their favorite flowers is the least we can do. Even a few oversized flowerpots, or window boxes will do.
This 4:05-minute video by KTVB encourages us to know we can grow it for our beloved pollinators:
Here are some easy tips to get going:
NATIVE FLOWERS, TREES AND PLANTS – no matter where in the world you live, plant what grows in that region for your native pollinators. They go together like hand and glove, having evolved alongside each other for millennia.
VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE – diversify the types of plants you choose. Try to cover the changing seasons between when bees emerge from winter until they retreat for next winter. No matter where you live, though, you can’t go wrong with planting some lavender, sage, chives, and rosemary. And if you want to help out the monarch butterflies, too, plant some milkweed, as that is what they need.
SPEND TIME IN YOUR GARDEN – go outdoors and feel the warmth of the sun and the breeze on your cheeks. Connect with family, friends, animals, and pollinators. Enjoy nature and the simple pleasures. Time spent in the garden together is good for the whole family.
DEVELOP GRATITUDE – as you survey your realm, whether it is a vast, manicured expanse or a patch of weedy land, or even a few flower boxes, turn up the sense of gratitude that life is good as your eyes settle on the colorful flowers, vegetables and fruits, and you hear bird song, see meandering butterflies flapping by and hear the buzzing of bees.
Do you have room for a beehive or two in your garden? If not for honeybees, consider renting mason bees and their houses for the season, as described in our recent blog post. Check local rules and regulations before you get them.
These beautiful creatures exist in a treacherous landscape where pesticides are invisible foes. Often it is too late for them by the time people figure they need to do something about it.
Do some simple things today to help them by inviting them into your safe and abundant garden. Yes, this means don’t use pesticides, insecticides, and weed killers. Look for organic and natural pest control solutions.
If you are gardening anyway, why not make choices that will support our pollinator friends? We need honeybees, solitary bees, bumblebees, and butterflies as much as they need us.
It is hard to solve vast global problems, but if each of us does a few little things in our own backyards, it spreads and eventually becomes a worldwide solution.