Bees are dying in record numbers, but you can help save them with your own garden. By planting the right flowers, vegetables and fruits, you can keep honey bees happy and thriving — a good thing, considering we need these buzzy critters to pollinate plants and keep our landscape lush.
One important way to help save the bees is to keep the flowers blooming as long as possible, leaving the creatures food all year long. That’s why you should raise a variety of plants that blossom in different seasons.
The website Buzz About Bees has a fantastic guide on which bee-friendly plants flower in each season. For blooms in late winter to spring, they recommend daffodils, winter honeysuckle, bluebells, cowslip, winter heathers and rosemary, which is also great for cooking.
For blossoms from spring to summer, plant crocuses, forget-me-nots, salvia, allium, foxgloves and the yummy herbs thyme and chives.
For summer-to-fall flowers, plant cornflower, sunflowers, verbena, hollyhock, golden rod, lavender and delicious raspberry bushes.
For autumn and winter blooms, Buzz About Bees highly recommends planting ivy. A lot of gardeners apparently dislike ivy, but bees love it. And when the bees pollinate ivy, they help grow berries that feed the birds — definitely a win-win. Also plant mint and common heather to feed the bees in the cold season.
One caveat: Don’t use chemical pesticides in your garden. Not only are they harmful to the bees, but they’re toxic to humans and bad for the planet. Even if you use natural, non-toxic pesticides, it’s a good idea to do your research and find out if they hurt bees or other wildlife. Your garden may do more harm than good if you smother your beautiful plants in poison.
Why It’s So Important to Save the Bees
We have about half the bee population now as we did during WWII, thanks to pesticides, climate change and GMOs (Monsanto strikes again). But we need our bees, because they pollinate 80 percent of our flowering crops — the same crops that make up one-third of our food supply, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In fact, one study from Cornell found that honey bees pollinate $14 billion dollars worth of crops and seeds in the United States alone.
If we lose the bees, we lose nuts, apples, broccoli, cucumbers, blueberries and much more. And if blueberries become scarce, I’ll be very upset.
We humans are responsible for the killing of the bees, so we’re also responsible for saving them. We can’t count on agriculture giants to do it for us, but we can use our own gardens to make a difference. If you’ll excuse me, I think it’s time to add some rosemary to my backyard.