Transforming Your Garden: How To Help The Bees Throughout The Fall

 

Thank you to Christy Erickson for submitting this article, apologize it’s a little late. ❤

Photo via Pixabay by katja

Many people keep their gardens lush and full in the spring and summer but put everything to bed once fall rolls around, unaware that they can have a lovely floral space even when the weather turns cool that will help their local bee population.

Keeping the bees fed and happy will ensure that they keep up their amazing work within our food production system, as bees play a role in about ⅓ of all the foods we eat.
Because these tiny creatures are still so active during fall months, it’s important to give them space to rest, eat, and drink since these can be hard to find when it gets cooler outside. Planting colorful flowers to attract their attention and leaving some green space will work wonders when it comes to helping them stay safe and happy. Read on for tips on how you can create a fall pollinator garden in your own backyard.

Go native

It’s a good idea to plant flowers that are native to your region, so do some research on which ones naturally grow in your state. These will flourish in your climate, and when planted in clusters, will attract local bees and help them feed more efficiently. Avoid modern “hybrid” flowers, which are often lacking in pollen and nectar.

Say no to pesticides

It’s an unfortunate truth that many gardeners are well aware of; pests will hang out around your flowers at just about any time of year, and they can do some damage if you don’t take steps to keep them under control. Pesticides, however, are full of chemicals that can do bees harm; in fact, those chemicals are part of the reason the bee population has dwindled in recent years. Instead, look for natural alternatives, such as a spray made with soap, to keep those bugs from eating up your plants.

Do some research

You may begin by choosing flowers that are native to your area, but it’s important to do some research into which plants are best for the bees. Pagoda dogwood, ninebarks, and hydrangeas are great options for year-round plants, and sunflowers are wonderful additions to a fall garden. Any flower that has a large, broad, flat face is great for bees because it gives them a sturdy place to land and feed. For more info on how best to landscape for fall, check out this article.

Give them a drink
Bees get thirsty too, but stopping for a drink can be hazardous to these tiny creatures. Give them a safe place to do so by setting out a small bowl of water with protruding stones so the bees will have a place to land and drink safely.

Give them shelter

Create a place for your local bees to rest and find protection from the elements by leaving dead tree limbs where they are or planting dense shrubs. While some bees burrow underground, others prefer to nest, so give them a spot to do it in. Read on here for tips on how to build a bee condo.

Leave some green space

Think about planting some evergreens around your home, which will provide shelter for the bees and give them a place to rest. It can be hard for them to find viable food sources in the fall, but it can also be hard to find a spot for protection since many people bundle up their gardens once the weather turns cool. Don’t worry about mulching and leave some open green space instead.

Remember that bees are more interested in the flowers than they are in you. Most won’t bother humans unless they are provoked, so talk to your family about allowing them to go about their business without interference. This will help keep the bee population where you live thriving and growing.

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3 Tips for Novice Gardeners Who Want to Help Bees

3 Tips for Novice Gardeners Who Want to Help Bees by Christy Erickson

If you want to start a home garden to help the bees but don’t have a green thumb or haven’t yet tried your hand at gardening to know whether you have a green thumb, don’t lose hope.

Even novice gardeners can grow some flowers and vegetables and help bees and other pollinators thrive. It’s more important now than ever before for you to take a leap into gardening because bee populations are declining, and we rely on bees for pollinating about one-third of all our food. Simply put, without bees and other pollinators, global food production would take a devastating hit. Our three tips for novice gardeners will help you develop a green thumb and, more importantly, protect bees in your backyard.

1. Spend Time Preparing the Soil

If you have not gardened successfully in the past, spend time learning gardening dos and don’ts. For instance: preparing your soil for new flowers and vegetables is essential because a healthy garden results from healthy soil. It’s also wise to determine the pH of your soil using a soil testing kit from your local home improvement store or nursery. Bulbs typically need a pH balance between six and seven, so if yours is at a different level, talk with the experts at the store or nursery about how to make corrections by adding minerals such as limestone or lime sulfur. Beware of certain products that could be toxic to bees when making pH adjustments to your soil; by itself, sulfur is highly toxic to bees, yet lime sulfur products are safe for bees.

2. Ensure Your Garden Materials are Bee Safe

Sadly, much of what we do to help bees actually is responsible for killing them.

According to the Huffington Post, one report shows that 54% of regularly purchased so-called bee-friendly plants from chain home improvement stores contain neonicotinoid pesticides. The European Union has banned these pesticides on flowering crops, but they continue to be used and sold in the United States. You should look at the garden products and materials you have at home and immediately stop using those that contain neonicotinoids: the product labels will contain acetamiprid, clothianidin, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam as active ingredients.

The better bet is to start your garden with products that you know are organic and bee safe. You can do so by purchasing organic plant starts or growing plants from untreated seeds in organic potting soil. Then, avoid using soil, pesticides, and fertilizers that contain neonicotinoids and other ingredients that are toxic to bees. One trick is to attract beneficial insects that prey on pests in your garden by planting specific flowers and herbs. If you’re not sure which plants will attract beneficial insects, check out this post by Permaculture Research Institute. If you absolutely cannot get rid of pests without other interventions, use insecticidal soaps or oils or other eco-friendly pest control products. (Tip: Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford shares tips for making your own insecticidal soap.)

3. Choose Plants that are Easy to Grow and that Attract Bees

Novice gardeners won’t do much to help bees if they try to grow plants that are better suited to people with extremely green thumbs. You will have a much more successful garden and help bees thrive if you choose plants that are easy to grow and that bees love.

For example, lavender, black-eyed Susans, daylilies, and Spiraea, are easy plants that attract bees and provide them with plenty of pollen and nectar. If you want to plant an edible garden, there are some vegetables and herbs that are more attractive to bees than others, including artichoke, beans, cucumbers, peas, squash, basil, low-growing clover, mint, rosemary, and oregano.

Novice gardeners can do a great deal to help bees by doing their best to start a backyard garden. You should spend time preparing the soil, avoid garden materials that are toxic to bees, and choose plants that are easy to grow and that attract bees.

Image via Pixabay by Antranias