Scientists call it the mystery of the vanishing bees; here’s how to help solve the problem.
With bumblebee populations on the decline in the United States and honeybees prone to a perplexing phenomenon called colony collapse disorder, the search for answers is on. Researchers say the pollinators’ problem could be pesticides, or a virus, or the fact that because of land development, there are fewer flowers in the world. That last one is something we can help fix, in our own gardens. Here are a few ways, including flowers to plant, to start helping the bees. For more inspiration on keeping the bees healthy, visit Bee Thinking in Oregon.
Above: Bees go after anything in bloom, but are particularly drawn to white, yellow, and blue; they see a color called “bee ultraviolet” that guides them to nectar. Lavender is intoxicating to bees (to us, as well). Lavandula angustifolia ‘Violet Intrigue’ has long-lasting blooms; $15.95 at White Flower Farm. Image via Centsational.
Above: Most beekeepers in the United States and Europe raise Apis mellifera, or western honeybees. For beginners, consider a lightweight Backyard Beehive; $339.95 at Williams-Sonona. Image via Botanic Garden. For more ideas, visit Helping Bees Survive, One Colony at a Time.
Above: Salvia, which is drought-tolerant, attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, as well as bees. There are dozens of varieties to choose among; Salvia x sylvestris ‘May Night’ is one of the few that can survive in colder climates; $24 for a set of three plants at White Flower Farm. Image by Wood Elf Gardener. To read more about hummingbirds’ attraction to salvia, visit The Hummingbird Chronicles.
Above: Many of the plants bees like best have large tubular flowers with a lower petal that acts as a landing platform. Image (salvia) by Susy Morris, via Flickr.
Above: A bumblebee gathers nectar from wild lupine; lupinus perennis is also the only plant on which the endangered Karner Blue Butterfly feeds; $2 for a packet of 40 seeds at Prairie Moon. Image by Oya Simpson.
For more inspiration and information on beekeeping, visit Gardenista’s post The Bees of Buckingham Palace.