If you’re a gardener, you probably already know that it’s important to have bees and other pollinators in your garden. Bees help to keep your garden healthy and productive. But the importance of bees stretches way beyond the boundaries of your backyard.
Why Are Bees Important?
Bees are an essential part of our ecosystem. Many of the crops grown in Canada and the US depend on pollinators to produce fruit, vegetables and other forms of food. Apples, pears, plums, pumpkins and squash are just a few of the plants that we wouldn’t get food from if it weren’t for bees. They’re also essential to certain crops that feed our livestock.
How Pollination Works
You can think of pollen as a kind of natural fertilizer. Pollen gets transferred from one plant to another of the same species, where it fertilizes it and seeds and fruit can start producing. Some plants pollinate themselves, and some are pollinated just by the pollen in the air, but others need the help of pollinators – like bees.
Bees hop around from blossom to blossom to collect pollen and nectar, which builds up and clings to their bodies. When they land on another flower, some of the pollen will fall off and fertilize the plant.
Dangers to Pollinators
Bee populations are in serious decline and are being threatened by things like parasites, diseases and pesticides. Commercial agriculture is also contributing to a lack of plant diversity, preventing bees from being able to get all of the nutrients they need. With limited sources of nectar and pollen, they aren’t able to get a wide range of nutrients.
How You Can Help
There are a few ways gardeners can help the bee population, and other pollinators. By turning your garden into a pollinator heaven, you can help increase their habitat and food sources.
- Plant diversity – Plant a variety of plants that bloom throughout the year to attract pollinators that are active at different times. Choose plants with differing heights, like flowering trees, shrubs, and flowers of all shapes and sizes.
- Wildflowers and native plants – The best plants for bees and other pollinators are the plants that are native to your area, because they evolved together.
- Provide a habitat – Wild bees construct their nests out of brush, dry grass and dead wood, so keeping your garden perfectly neat isn’t ideal. Make sure some raw materials are available to them.
- Single flowers – Flowers with a single row of petals provide more nectar and pollen than others, to focus on planting more of these. They’re also easier for bees to reach.
- Choose the right colours – Bees are most attracted to flowers that are blue, purple and yellow, with flat or shallow flowers.
For more tips for attracting bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, check out this blog post from Dirt Cheap in Kitchener.
To create the perfect garden this year, get all the soil, mulch, aggregates and grass seed you need from Dirt Cheap!