Happy bees!Dory Otto
Plants for Pollinators
It is finally getting to be the time of year when Minnesotans head out outside. For some that means working in the garden, some it means planting or buying flower plants to enjoy during the warmer months. Most of us it seems, make some connection with growing things over the summer. If we don’t personally partake in growing fruits and veggies we likely visit a farmers market or get a tomato or two from a neighbor.
It is easy to lose touch with the basics of the growing process and the critical role that bees play in pollinating. Without that, our food system faces collapse as we know it. If you and your kids haven’t watched The Bee Movie, you really should. It makes the process relatable and teaches the importance of bees.
Consider growing plants that will attract pollinators. There are some flowering plants that bees love.
This isn’t a sacrifice, these plants are colorful and attractive. Think snapdragons, sunflowers, lobelia, and more! For a helpful list visit The University of Minnesota’s Bee Lab.
Being mindful of your use of pesticides and planting with bees in mind are just a couple of things you can do. Last April Rhonda Hayes of the Star Tribune posted this list of things we can all do to help the bee population.
Bee Friendly Practices
1. Use native plants in your landscape.
2. Tolerate dandelions, creeping Charlie and other helpful weeds.
3. Plant an herb garden and let a portion of it bloom.
4. Provide a safe water source.
5. Consider planting a bee lawn.
6. Leave some bare soil and garden debris in your yard.
7. Support local beekeepers/buy local honey.
8. Avoid pesticides/apply responsibly only when absolutely needed.
Visit a local garden center for more tips. They can help you select plants that will provide the needed pollen and nectar to bees. They can also help to select plants that will help butterflies, who are also in need of habitat. Perhaps surprisingly, bees and butterflies do have some different needs when it comes to flowers.
Both will result in a yard full of color and activity. As the bees buzz and butterflies flutter about know you have played a part in a much larger initiative. Happy gardening!