Dear readers. It fills our hearts with joy to be approaching you online for the first time. Being rather old-fashioned and veering towards being long in the tooth, it took quite a while for the news to come around to us that there is a growing army of gardening enthusiasts out there. But like us, just before officially retiring from the rat race, there are far too many readers that know little to nothing about gardening.
We learned quite a few things about gardening after finding ourselves with plenty of time on our hands. It did not come easy at first. It was back-breaking work, especially considering that we were getting on in years and my wife stubbornly resisted any outside help. Not that money was an option. And just so that you know, your bee-friendly gardens do not need to be an expensive enterprise if you find yourself a little tight around the apron strings.
And because bees are so essential for helping your garden plants to grow, we decided to talk to you a little bit about attracting bees to your new garden as our own little side-bar of an introduction to beekeeping. Here you will not be keeping bees as a beekeeper. You will be keeping those bees in your garden as a natural and organic gardener. So, let us get on with our own introduction to the wonderful natural collaboration between bees and colorful and well-scented flowers.
There are two important tasks you can put into place during your first days of building a bee-friendly garden. The most important thing to bear in mind is to keep that new garden of yours as organic as possible. And by doing that, you will be avoiding all chemical pesticides. The alternative is all natural and it is really quite easy to put into place. And while you are about it, you can give your new colony of bees a warm sunny welcome by creating a hospitable space, strategically so where there will be enough sun.
Ultimately, chemical pesticides will disrupt the garden’s food chain, including that of the bees. These pesticides will contribute towards the depletion of pollen bearing insects, including the bees. The easy alternative is to use natural pest controls, if needs be. These will include netting, mesh barriers and natural weed controllers such as regular hoeing and mulching. Mulching keeps your plants’ surrounding soil moist, so there is also the resourceful practice of not having to water excessively and thus preserve water.
Gather a few bundles of hollow stems, old twigs and cane, and pack these together in a watertight exterior casing. Drill holes creatively in different sizes into a piece of rustic wood. These sizes will vary from two millimeters to ten millimeters. Position these makeshift, pre-prepared hives in sheltered locations, but with some exposure to the sun. The shelter will protect the bees from the natural vagaries of winter.
Bee-friendly flowers will essentially contain more than enough pollen and nectar for these necessary creatures to feast on. Focus on selecting single flowering plants rather than those that will bear what is known as double flowers. Go for as much variety as possible when selecting your new flowering plants. This entails including trees as well. If your garden space is too small for this, shrubs will do. Go for plants that bloom earlier in season. This provides bees with ready to collect food after its hibernation is complete.
Suitable plants for this occasion include your willows and the blossoms from fruit trees. When we first bought our house, two of the first trees we planted were almonds and plums. Both these trees provide bees with the perfect blossoms during the spring months. Today, now that I have my organic vegetable garden patch in place, I have also discovered that the egg plant is particularly attractive to the bees. And you can also plant ivy along the borders of your preferred plants’ harvesting areas.
In order to be successful in your endeavor to attract new, wild bees to your garden, try and be as strategic in your enterprise as possible. In contrast to ditching the use of chemical pesticides, do plant plants that are well known to attract garden-friendly insects to your garden. By doing this practically, you are pretty much assured of supplying your new bees with its inexhaustible supply of pollen and nectar.
Added attraction for the bees will be allowing your organic garden to be a little on the authentic side. You can do this by allowing parts of your garden to have a wild, untended look. Also leave your winter grass a little longer than usual. Leave the hollow stems of your perennial (all year) plants uncut. This also provides additional shelter for the bees to forage in. Focus also on adding so-called wild plants such as dandelions.
These wild plants have a bounty of pollen and nectar for the bees to feed on. And the added advantage for you is that you do not need to do much cultivating and tending here. Just leave the plants and the bees and let them get on with what comes naturally to them. And that, of course, means less spade work for you. Less work on your part means more hard work opportunities for the bees. Worker bees thrive on hard work.
They love to work. And as any queen bee will tell you, if she could, this is what they were born for. Your untended grass, for instance, allows small plants such as clover and daisies to flower for longer. Longer flowering, of course, means more foraging opportunities for the bees. And the more foraging the bees are allowed, the more food they are able to provide its colonies with. And there’s more still. The more natural bee colonies there are, particularly in urban environments such as ours, the more food there will be for all creatures that live on planet earth.