Cultivating Pollinators: How To Grow A Bee Friendly Garden:

by davenmidtown

Pollinators are incredibly important to most life on earth. This articles focuses on attracting pollinators by growing a bee friendly garden.

This article discusses how to grow plants that bees are attracted to. The article also gives a little bit of background between plants and bee and the critical relationship that they share.

Attracting Bees To Your Garden:

Bumblebee and Sunflower:
Bumblebee and Sunflower
Bumblebee and Sunflower

Most Bees Are Not Aggressive:

Understanding the Nature of Bees:

Most bees are not aggressive. They get that bad reputation from a few species such as yellow jackets, hornets, and the Africanized honeybee. Those species are highly aggressive and very protective of their nesting area. In general, most bees are not interested in stinging people. The fact of the matter is that only female bees can sting. This is because the females adapt their ovipositor into a stinger when they are not laying eggs or if they are not mating which occurs in most honeybees that are not the queen. Already, your chances of getting stung by a bee have been reduced by 50%. Its either female or male and if it is a male it can not sting you. Aside from the three species that I listed above as being aggressive most bee stings happen when we come into contact with a bee either on purpose or by accident. Walking barefoot on the lawn and stepping on a honey bee is likely going to result in a sting. Picking up a bumblebee is likely going to result in a sting. The truth of the matter is bee's could care less about us, unless we provoke them. 

Bees Play an Important Roll in Human Food Production:

Carpenter Bee and Squash Blossom:
Carpenter Bee and Squash Blossom:
Carpenter Bee and Squash Blossom:

Pollinating Squash:

Why Bees Are Important:

Not all plant blossoms that we grow contain both male and female reproductive parts. In squash plants, the blossom is either male or female but not both. This means that a bee, and usually a bumblebee or carpenter bee, must serve as the go between to pollinate squash plants. Without the help of the bee, squash would not likely be pollinated nor would it likely produce fruit. Flowers that have both male and female reproductive parts, such as sunflowers,  need only be visited by one bee. This makes pollination easier. 

Bees and Sunflower:

Bees Pollinating:
Bees Pollinating:
Bees Pollinating:

Attracting Bees:

How To Attract Bees To Your Garden:

Bee's love flowers and especially flowers that are fragrant, but smell is not the only thing that attracts bees. Sometimes they are attracted by specific shades of ultra violet. Flowering plants and bees have long worked out a method by which bees can find flowers. Sometimes the attraction is scent based in which the flower uses pheromones to attract bees and flies. Other times the attraction is based on color, or rather ultraviolet. To humans, it may appear as white stripes or spots on a flower but to bees, flies and butterflies that white pigmentation is is like a beacon. 

My best advice is to plant a variety of flowering plants that have a wide range of flower coloration. Flowers do not have to be overpowering in scent to attract bees. Their antenna are much more adapt at picking up chemical trails then are human noses. Bees and other insects mostly smell using their antenna, and flower scents are chemical based. 

Some popular plants for both bees and humans include Sunflowers, flowering herbs such as Basil, Lilac, Daisy, Snap Dragons, all of the plants in the Salvia family, Daliah, Yarrow, Day Lilies, Asters, Collengula, Marigolds, Pansy, Viola, Cone Flowers (echinacea) and Goldenrod. 

Honeybee and Cone Flower:

Honeybee At Work
Honeybee At Work:
Honeybee At Work:

Daisy Like Flowers Work Well for Bee:

Updated: 02/16/2013, davenmidtown
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Raintree on 08/27/2014

We're actively sorting our garden and planting to attract bees and other wildlife. This year even though we only planted a few things for bees so far we had a lot visit us.We never once got stung even walking and gardening close by. They just seem to want to get about their business. I think they are fascinating.

cazort on 08/27/2014

I agree that bees are sometimes maligned; when I've been stung, it's generally been by yellow-jacket wasps, not honeybees, and I don't know anyone who has been stung by a bumblebee. I love planting gardens to attract pollinators. There are so many different types of bees and pollinating insects. I love watching the different pollinators attend the different flowers.

We planted Pycnanthemum muticum: it was long-flowering, and attracted these beautiful shiny blue-black bees or wasps. We also planted Monarda fistulosa, and it attracted a number of bees, and also a beautiful long-tongued moth with a striking red and black pattern and a hummingbird-like flight pattern. Even some weedy plants attract bees. For example, Carolina horsenettle came up in my garden and I left a bit of it, and it attracted bumblebees with its blooms. Goldenrod also just came up on its own in my garden, and it attracts tons of different types of bees. I sometimes see some really TINY bees, they are super cute...and occasionally I see the striking metallic green bees, really awesome to look at.

A few flowers that I've planted attract butterflies too.

I love including as many different types of native wildflowers in my garden as possible. I've noticed that the more variety of flowers I have, the more variety of bees and other pollinators show up. I'm working on attractive hummingbirds too...they're spectacular.

davenmidtown on 10/30/2012

2uesday: I agree. More people need to understand the importance of bees, and other beneficial insects. Bee gardens are really beautiful and beneficial. I too, like the sound of the bees!

davenmidtown on 04/30/2012

Hello katiem2! Honeybees love all flowers and are very non-discriminant when it comes to collecting nectar and pollen. Some really interesting bees are native bees. These are much smaller then a honey bee. If you sit near a flowering plant you will see little bees begin to work over the blossoms. Those are likely native bees. The mason bees are beautiful green and blue and here in Sacramento they just emerged. The paper wasps are also out and for the most part they mind their own business.... but the cuckoo wasps are my favorite... they do not sting at all... but they are beautiful... metallic green and metallic blue ... so named because they lay their eggs in other wasps nests.

katiem2 on 04/30/2012

How cool I must being doing everything right, I have all of these flowers in my landscape and two bee hives. The bees are especially busy this time of year. I love the bees they don't mind me at all. Great contribution to the movement to keep the bee population strong and thriving. Oh I also have apple, cherry, and plum trees, blackberries, raspberries, grapes and strawberries. Happy bees about my flower place.

davenmidtown on 04/09/2012

Thank you Cindy! I am happy that you enjoyed this article. I love insects and especially bees. With colony collapse in full swing, every little thing we do to help the honeybees is important.

CindyMurdoch on 04/09/2012

This is a beautiful article. Your pictures are outstanding. And bees are so very important to our survival. Great article!

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