Amid growing concern over massive losses among bees – including Colony Collapse Disorder, in which as many as one-third of all U.S. hives have been abandoned without reason – many people wonder what the average person can do to help protect these important pollinators.
The answer might be easier and closer to home than you think. Why not support bees and other pollinators in your own back yard? Here are 4 ways to make your landscape bee-friendly and still beautiful.
Plant a Variety
One concern about bees today is the damage that a restricted diet may do to their health. Bees need a variety of plants in their diet to support a healthy immune system. So provide a diverse garden that features blooming plants and trees of all types. Early blooming trees like maples, oaks and poplars provide pollen and nectar to emerging bees while late bloomers like sumacs keep the bees healthy through the summer months.
Use Native Species
There are several reasons to cultivate native plant species in your yard. First, native insects have co-existed with native species much longer, so they are best suited to feed and nest in such plants. Second, native plants are acclimatized to your region's weather, soil and environment and will grow better without pesticides or fertilizer. Many synthesized pesticides and fertilizers are toxic to bees and other insects, so the less you can use, the better for your winged friends. Try to focus on natural ways to fertilize your plants and look into organic pesticides that are pollinator friendly.
Ditch the Lawn
Lawns may look nice to humans, but they are meaningless for most insects. By reducing the size of unbroken grass on your property and instead planting clover or mixed wild flower seed, you can give bees a great place to find food, shelter, and protection. Be sure to avoid fertilizers and trimming the grass too low.
Invite Them Home
Bees need more than just flowers; they also need a good place to call home. There are varieties that nest both above and under ground, so provide nesting areas for both. Above ground, bees love a good hedge. It's large and roomy and remains undisturbed for long periods of time. Incorporate hedges into your garden design to encourage these helping insects to call this place home.
Subterranean bees build nests that look like a small hole in the ground to casual observers. Such a nest can be easily disturbed, so make note of any that you find and landscape around them in a way that discourages foot traffic, pets, and vehicles. Encourage subterranean bees by providing some areas with good sunlight and very little vegetation.
For more ideas on yard layout, contact a company like ScenicView Landscapes.