As many know, there’s a lot that goes into managing a vegetable garden. No matter the size, there’s always something to do – like soil prepping, weeding, watering, planting…you get the idea. With all that we do to help improve our chances for success, we’re not the only ones in control. Believe it or not, there are other busy workers out and about giving us a helping hand, and their presence could determine the success or failure of our efforts.
That’s right, I’m talking about bees!
I’ve come to learn that the longer I garden the more I get interested in the little things that help make it all come together. The importance of bees is sometimes under estimated. A close connection exists between the bees and our vegetables. Most of the vegetables and fruits we eat depend on bees for reproduction. Bees are truly a gardener’s friend.
To ensure my veggies like squash and cucumbers get pollinated, I like to add a few flowers throughout the garden to help attract more bees.
I did a little research on the subject and came up with a few cool facts about bees and pollination:
This from the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign
- Almost 90 percent of flowering plants must be pollinated by animals.
- More than 200,000 species – from beetles to bees, from ants to butterflies, from hummingbirds to bats – act as pollinators; but bees pollinate the most plants.
- Pollinators (mostly bees) are responsible for about 1/3 of the food that we eat
- Honeybees are not native to the United States. They were brought over by the colonists in the 1600s.
Want to attract more bees? Here are some tips...
- Plant more native plants.
- Bees like herbs. Plant a few of them in the garden and allow some to bloom.
- Pick plants that will flower throughout the year - even in winter. Bees forage anytime the temperatures are above 50 degrees.
- Avoid using pesticides whenever possible. If you must spray do it in the evening when bees are less active, and if you can avoid it, don’t spray the bloom itself.
- Flat flowers are best for bees because they don’t have long proboscises like butterflies do. They don’t like to go down to deep in a flower.
- Create a drinking area by filling a saucer with wet sand and sinking it into the ground. Keep the sand wet. Puddling areas like this will attract both bees and butterflies.
- Some recommended plants include goldenrod, yarrow, bee balm, hyssops, salvias, mints, lavender and thyme as well as fruits, like blueberries.
With all the benefits that bees provide, why not provide them a little something extra in your garden.