Tuesday, July 23
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Bee-Friendly Gardens – Plants and Design Tips to Support Pollinators

Bees need flowers that bloom continuously through the growing season, such as Evolution(tm) Fiesta Coneflowers and wild columbine perennials. Bumblebees and certain solitary bees prefer ground nesting, so provide hiding places such as hollow logs and dead plant material for them.

Increase the blooming season in your garden with spring bulbs, hellebores and crocuses as well as late-season favorites like irises, lilyturf and Joe Pye weed. Avoid pesticide use where possible; if necessary use spray only early morning or dusk.

Nectar-Rich Plants

Pollinators need flowers that produce abundant nectar to survive in your garden, so consider planting a range of blooming species at various times throughout the year so each pollinator has access to food sources all year long.

Choose native plants, which will thrive best in your climate and conditions. However, even non-native ones can help, especially if selected from within their region and watered as directed.

Pollinators can be killed by chemical pesticides; to use eco-friendly options instead, such as organic sprays.

Prioritize single blossom flowers that are easier for pollinators to access than double flowers, such as geraniums, daisies and other members of the Daisy family, New England/NY asters/phlox and more. A clean water source is essential to bee health; consider providing them with access to one in the form of a sloping bird bath with stones for them to stand upon, backyard waterfall, pond/pool with clean water source or dish containing mixture of salt water with wood ashes for bees!

Water

Garden is an excellent place for bees to find food, shelter and sustenance. When planting nectar and pollen producing flowers it provides energy-rich food sources as well as protein to feed young bees.

Plant a range of flowering species that bloom throughout the year from early spring through late fall. Consider including long-blooming perennial varieties like lilacs (Lonicera spp), wildflowers, bee balm (Balma melissa), sunflowers, native violas, asters Joe-Pye weed (Phyllanthus niger) and hardy ageratums in your planting mix – bees love their scent! Also add herbs such as chives, oregano or rosemary since bees love their aroma! Bees love these scents too.

Bees and butterflies rely on sunlight to warm their bodies and energize them for work, so make sure your bee-friendly garden gets at least six hours of sun each day. Avoid shaded areas, heavy wood mulch and shade trees which discourage nesting by native solitary bees, as these prevent nesting. Instead provide shallow bird baths with pebbles as sources for bee hydration in your garden.

Shelter

As you plan your garden, try to incorporate an assortment of colorful plants. Bees are particularly drawn to flowers with purple, yellow, blue and violet petals; therefore include long-blooming perennials such as Echinacea, Sunflowers and Sage as well as long-blooming annuals like Marigolds Zinnias Cosmos to increase pollinator attraction. You may also consider including spring bulbs and long-blooming shrubs such as Winter Honeysuckle Hardy Iris Lilac Rosebay Willow for extra pollinators attraction.

Leave some wild areas in your garden unmowed in order to provide shelter for solitary bees and other wildlife, such as dead flower heads, tufts of grass, leaf litter and upturned plant pots – these all make great nest sites for bees, so avoid raking up yard and garden in fall/winter months to provide this essential habitat. In addition, avoid chemical applications including pesticides, herbicides and fungicides which could weaken or kill them; avoid cutting bare spots where wildflowers grow such as dandelions/clover/English daisies – these provide vital food sources to bees!

Food

Pollinators need constant food sources throughout the growing season. Aim for plants that bloom at different times to ensure a steady supply of nectar and pollen.

Flowers of various shapes, sizes and colors attract different species of bees. Smaller blooms such as single round alyssum flowers tend to attract bees more than their larger pompom-shaped counterparts. Bumblebees can pry open more complex blooms like purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea), while longer-tongued native bees can access inner petals on larger flowers like wild indigo (Baptisia tinctoria).

To best support local pollinators, it’s best to stay away from pesticides and herbicides which could harm pollinators populations. When necessary, organic solutions or nontoxic methods should be employed instead for controlling pests.

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