Attracting bees (12-26)
By DEAN FOSDICK
For The Associated Press
Wild honeybees have all but disappeared from yards across America. Many kinds of butterflies also are becoming scarce. But gardeners have options if they need pollinators to help produce a healthy food supply.
No cause has been found for the worldwide decline in pollinators, but contributing factors include pesticides, habitat loss, pollution, disease and pests.
An estimated 200,000 species act as pollinators, transferring pollen grains from one flower to another, facilitating fruiting and seed production. About 1,000 are birds, bats, and small mammals like mice and voles. The rest are insects: bees, hornets and wasps, butterflies and moths, ants and beetles, even houseflies and mosquitoes.
On nearly every continent, native bee populations have seen dramatic declines, said Gary Mast, a deputy undersecretary with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“In China, many fruit growers are pollinating flowers by hand because improper pesticide use has killed the bees in the orchards,” Mast said. “And nearly two-thirds of Britain’s 25 species of bumblebees are in decline.”
Pollinator species that are disappearing in North America include some butterflies, bats and hummingbirds, as well as honeybees, the most efficient pollinators, according to a report by the National Academy of Sciences National Research Council.
Mast estimates that bees pollinate one-third of the world’s crops, a service calculated to be worth around $70 billion a year.
So what can gardeners do to help pollinators?
Landscaping with plants that appeal to them can secure a season-long series of visitors.
Artificial shelters like bee condominiums and bat houses could encourage them to stay.
Pollen- and nectar-rich flowering plants like butterfly weeds (Asciepias tuberosa), black-eyed susans (Rudbeckia species), coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea), milkweeds (Asciepias species), phlox (Phlox paniculata, Carolina), Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota), sedum and sunflowers (Helianthus species) appeal most to bees and butterflies, said James Dill, an entomologist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.
Hummingbirds prefer cardinal flowers (red Lobelia), columbines (especially the red Aquilegia species) and trumpet vines (Campsis).
“Red, trumpet-shaped flowers are the most popular thing you can put in your yard to attract pollinators,” Dill said. “Even though they’re small, phlox have a nice supply of nectar. They also have shallow trumpets and even small insects can reach into those.”
Some other plant-centered suggestions for attracting pollinators:
- Succession planting. Food plants should be available from early spring well into autumn. Bees need nectar and pollen to survive. “You especially want flowering plants for butterflies during mid- to late season, when butterflies are most prevalent,” Dill said.
- Provide water. A dripping faucet, birdbath or mud puddle attracts bees and butterflies. Change the water frequently to discourage mosquito breeding and to avoid chemical contamination.
- Plant native perennials. These hardy flowers provide many colorful returns and produce large nectar supplies.
- Sunny sites. Bees are more active when warm, and most flower varieties require several hours or more of sun per day to produce nectar and pollen.
- Add food plants for the juveniles. “Think of the life cycles of the insects you’re trying to attract,” Dill said. “Figure out their food sources.”
- Herbicides and insecticides, which are especially harmful to bees and butterflies. Choose non-chemical solutions for insect problems. “One of the things we tell our farmers is be careful when spraying,” Dill said. “If you’re an apple grower, look and see what’s underneath the tree. Be mindful about time of day, wind conditions, bee activity and whatever else is around.”
- Many “horticultural plants” such as marigolds, mums and roses bred as doubles contain little or no pollen. Their many petals make it impossible for bees and other pollinators to gather nectar, entomologists say. Select single petal flowers like strawberries, cranesbill (geraniums) and daisies that provide easier access.
- Cleaning up. The casual look is in if you want pollinators to take up housekeeping on your property. Bees often nest in undisturbed shrubs or grass.
“Condition yourself to the beauty of natural areas,” said Laurie Adams, executive director of the Pollinator Partnership, a San Francisco-based nonprofit group that promotes pollination and biodiversity. “Put up a sign that says ‘Pollinator garden’ if it looks a little unkempt. Ground nesting bees need some debris nearby.”
Learn all you can about plants native to your area and observe which beneficial insects are visiting the garden, Adams said.
“Diversify with flowering plants known to attract particular pollinators,” she said. “That reduces the pesticide load, creates something attractive that will last for years and benefits the environment.”
"Naturally, there are different climates we all live in, but for our area, or "zone" here in Santa Cruz County, we encourage you to plant some of the following:
This post was modified from its original form on 04 Jan, 0:42
A list of plants for pollinators in zone 6. These are all either native to my region or a food/herb.
If they flower for an extended period they are listed in the season they first bloom. Keep in mind, many of the summer plants extend into fall. Also some of the food/herb could flower at different times, or not at all, according to your cultivation techniques.
Asclepias variegata, Achillea millefolium, Sedum ternatum, Monarda russeliana, Saxifraga virginiensis, Coreopsis lanceolata, Trifolium agrarium, Aquilegia canadensis, Valerian Pauciflora, Phlox; divaricata, subulata, pilosa, Osmorhiza longistylis, Baptisia; leucophae, australis, Lettuce, Dill, Fennel, Winter savory, Anise hyssop
Echinacea; pallida, purpurea, Yucca fillamentosa, Angelica venenosa, Coreopsis major,Helenium nudiflorum, Lactuca canadensis, Rudbekia; hirta, laciniata, Oenothera biennis, Asclepias tuberosa, Liatris; spicata, squarrosa, Phlox; maculata, paniculata, Monarda fistulosa, Passiflora incarnata, Sages(especially pineapple), Mints, Parsley, Cilantro, Chamomile (Roman is my favorite), Lavender, Chives or any Allium, Basil
Aster spp., Veronicastrum virginicum, Solidago spp., Vernonia altissima(This is a great one!), Eupatorium spp., Sorry too many Asters, Eupatoriums and Solidago to list seperately. The Solidagos really stand out being packed with pollen.
Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines
Many of these pull double and even triple duty, providing food for adults or juveniles, nesting, and for multiple species.
Amelanchier spp., Rubus spp., Campsis radicans, Parthenocissus quinquefolia, Sambucus canadensis, Vibernum spp., Rosa spp.,Cercis canadensis, Robinia spp., Oxydendrum arboreum(Love this one wish they would plant everywhere),Morus spp., Lindera benzoin(another favorite),Pyrus spp.
I really like my native plants, and using them is probably one of the best things you can do for pollinators. This is why I have used scientific names, to clarify exactly which plant I mean. Common names can cross oceans and jump families. Where I did not list species, a simple search will provide you with plenty of examples. Then you can find the right native for your yard.
Now I must say something about anise hyssop(Agastache foeniculum), also known as licorice mint. I can not get enough of this plant and apparently the bees feel the same way. It will bloom from mid/late spring straight through to fall. Has beautiful flowers, nice foliage, and a wonderful scent. The flowers are edible and a tea can be made from the leaves. I love putting the flowers in my lemonade.
some rules not tied to a specific spot on earth:
1) If the flowers look like daisy or clover, and is purple, blue or yellow, it will attract bees
2) Use as much native plants as you can and keep it simple.
I find sunflowers, Anise Hyssop, lavender, rosemary and thymme popular with bees in our garden in the uk.
I've left an upside down terrecotta pot out in a quiet spot for a few months now as I heard sometimes the bees will use them for a nest....no luck yet though.
& remember even if you're short on space a flowering plant in a pot is wonderful!
This post was modified from its original form on 25 Aug, 0:05
This post was modified from its original form on 25 Aug, 0:07
Buy plants from organic nurseries
This post was modified from its original form on 28 Sep, 6:34