A Bee Happy Garden

Creating a Bee Happy Garden 

A priority for me this year was to grow more plants and flowers that would attract bees to my garden, not only for pollination, but also to provide a safe sanctuary where bees could gather nectar and pollen in an environment that didn’t have any toxins in it.   I think I succeeded.  Never before do I remember so many bees buzzing all over my property, but to be honest I don’t know for sure if it was due to the flowers in my garden, or the incredibly early spring we had.   It was probably a combination of the two.


When I read an article in Prevention magazine about how to create a Bee Happy Garden, June 2013, page 141, I realized that I needed to make sure that I had more of the kind of flowers that bees loved.  Last year, in particular, was a year when the bees were scarce, so I knew I had to make some changes to attract more of them this year.  Also, since I’ve put in more fruit trees, I wanted to be even more certain that the plums, pears, cherries and apples would get pollinated and hopefully bear more fruit.


According to the Prevention article, bees are most attracted to flowers that are bright yellow, violet, orange, and blue, and it’s important to have flowers around during early spring, late summer, and fall so that the bees can store enough nectar and pollen to sustain their hives over winter.  Some common bee loving flowers would be borage, coneflower, coreopsis, Russian sage, bee balm, and black-eyed Susan.  Others would be cosmos, lavender, calendula, sunflowers, and asters.   I’m surprised that Dahlias weren’t mentioned, because the flowers in my yard that got the most attention from bees this summer were all the bushy Dahlias bordering the fountain herb area.


One of the most long lasting flowers are, of course, the sunflowers.  If you plant them in succession in different areas of the yard then they will be blooming all summer and into the fall offering visual delight to the gardener and food for the bees well into later September and early October.   The borage is also a long lasting flower.  It’s October 1st today as I start this post, and my borage is still flourishing, as well as the cosmos, black-eyed Susan, asters and the calendula.   There’s no doubt about it though, the bees love sunflowers the most, and when they are finished and ready to pull up,  I just lay them out on the ground for the chickens. They absolutely love the seeds that are still inside, but they have to compete with the squirrels and birds to get their share.


There is so much I need to learn about bees. One interesting thing I didn’t know was that bees have short tongues, so they can’t get much food from trumpet shaped flowers, and it’s a good idea to allow dandelions and white clover to grow in your lawn since it provides seasonal food sources for a balance diet when other blooms are scarce.  It’s also important to make sure that the bees have a source of water in a shallow birdbath or dish.  Unfortunately, I did scoop out quite a few bees over the summer that had drowned in my fountain.  I didn’t understand why, and now I know.  They actually can drown if they go too deep to drink!


Now that I understand even more about what flowers attract bees, I’ll make sure each year to grow even more of these flowers in my garden, especially the sunflowers.  I am also wondering if the tall varieties attract the bees from greater distances.  Regardless of how the bees feel about sunflowers, for me they are the most stunning and beautiful flowers of all.   I call them statement flowers, and they just give me so much visual pleasure and joy.  I will write about the sunflowers in my garden in my next post, so stay tuned!

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