Creating a Bee Haven in Your Own Backyard
There are more than 4,000 native bee species in the USA, with honey bees, mason bees, and bumblebees being among the most prevalent in Kentucky. In order for a garden to flourish, it needs pollinators such as bees to help the various trees and plants to grow, breed, and produce food. In the absence of bees who visit garden mainly in search of nectar and pollen, none of this will be possible. It is for this very reason that it is so important to welcome bees into your garden by not only planting bee-friendly plants such as bee balm, borage, and lavender but also supplying them with some mud and warm boulders to rest on and even ready-made bee homes.
Make some mud
Mason bees are some of the most productive pollinators you will find in Kentucky. They get their names from the fact that the female bees seal off each nesting tube with clay or mud to protect all the hibernating bees from their natural enemies. You can assist the mason bees in your garden by having a small patch of clay or mud readily available for them. You can make a small puddle of bud at ground level for your pollinators or, alternatively, put out a shallow dish with some mud in it on a pedestal or on a tree branch to keep it away from predators.
Build the bees a home
Building a home for the pollinators in your garden is a lot easier than imagined. A bee board can easily be constructed by taking a piece of discarded lumber and drilling half-inch holes into it. It is important to make sure that the lumber has not been treated with any chemicals as this could prove to be harmful to the bees. Put your newly-made bee board in a sheltered yet sunny area in your garden, well out of reach of children and pets. Although the weather in Kentucky is typically mild, the winters can be cold and wet. To prevent your bee board and its occupants from getting soaked during this inclement weather conditions, you can move your bee board to your garage or shed to keep it warm and dry. Other styles of bee homes to consider include stick homes and bamboo homes, both of which will provide your garden visitors with a safe place to stay.
Plant some clover
While there are many plants that can attract bees into your garden, clover is without a doubt one of the best. Apart from being a great alternative to normal grass, both red and white clover is an excellent food source for bees. Planting clover will not only attract an array of useful pollinators to your garden, but will also provide your lawn with much-needed nitrogen, allowing it to grow and flourish. Other pollinator-friendly plants to consider include asters, anise hyssops, and even black-eyed Susans.
Put down some rocks and boulders
Did you know that bees are cold-blooded and extremely sensitive to cold air? Some bees even become incapacitated when the temperature drops below 50 degrees, rendering them virtually defenseless against predators. You can assist the bees by putting some rocks, boulders, and even stepping stones in your garden that they can warm themselves on. Just tread lightly as you don’t want to step on a bee that is busy warming his little body on your garden pathway.
Keep the honey bees safe
Wild and domestic honey bees are responsible for approximately 80% of the world’s pollination with a single bee colony being able to pollinate as many as 300 million flowers in a single day. Unfortunately, the USA honey bee population has been very inconsistent over recent years with parasite and disease being the biggest contributors to a declining honey bee populace. Colony collapse disorder is also a big concern among farmers, scientists, and the bee-loving public, making it even more important to offer a safe space for honey bees within your garden.
Bees are a central part of our ecosystem and deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. By making the effort to create a bee haven in your garden, you will significantly contribute towards keeping the world’s most important pollinators safe.
By Karoline Gore