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Mar 11

Honey Bees and Plants (Bee Info Series Part II of V)

Posted on March 11, 2016 at 3:55 PM by Allan Warren

Bee Info Series 1Since 2006, as much as 70% of some bee populations have died as a result of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Seventy farm grown crops, about one-third of our natural food supply, rely on honey bees for pollination. Imagine peanut butter without jelly. If the honey bees disappear, so will the grapes and the strawberries, along with many of the other foods that have become not only favorites, but staples of the modern diet. You can help restore the honey bee population with a bee friendly garden and landscape.

It isn't difficult to make your yard, garden or even patio space a haven beneficial for bees. You'll be helping these important insects, as well as bringing more nature to your backdoor.

The greater the plant diversity, the more bees you will attract and support. Always try to choose as many native plants as possible, and consult with experts to find vegetation that will thrive in your specific conditions. The WSU Master Gardner Extension has many articles regarding bee keeping, beneficial plants, and resources on the topic.

Plant long blooming flowers or a variety of plants that will bloom at different times throughout the spring and fall. Honey bees need to eat until they retreat to their hives for the winter. Try to group at least ten bee plants in a bunch or grouping.

  • Beneficial Annuals: Asters, Calliopsis, Clover, Dandelions, Marigolds, Poppies, Sunflowers, Zinnias. 
  • Beneficial Perennials: Buttercups, Clematis, Cosmos, Crocuses, Dahlias, Echinacea, English Ivy, Foxglove, Geraniums, Germander, Hyacinth, Roses, Sedum, Snowdrops, Honeysuckle, Indigo. 
Honey Bee friendly garden plants attract and nourish honey bees with nectar producing plants. Wild flowers, including asters, goldenrod, sunflowers, even dandelions will provide food for the hives, and the native bee population as well. Plant flowering vegetables and fruits will not only provide a great source of food for your family and they will provide nectar for the bees. The following are a list of some beneficial garden fruit and vegetables.

  • Beneficial Garden Plants: Blackberries, Cantaloupe, Cucumbers, Gourds, Peppers, Pumpkins, Raspberries, Squash, Strawberries, Watermelons, Wild Garlic, Herbs, Coriander/Cilantro, Fennel, Lavender, Mints, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme.
Not only are plants critical to honey bees thriving, trees provide additional nectar and protection for honey bees. Trees provide shade that helps reduce evaporation of water and shelter for nesting and foraging. The following is a list of honey bee beneficial trees.
 
  • Beneficial Trees: Alder, Fruit Trees (especially Crab Apples), Hawthornes, Magnolias, Maples, Poplar, and Willows. 
 
Honey bees need water in addition to nectar to have a strong colony and survive. Provide a pond, a fountain, or some other fresh water source. Watering your garden at optimal hours to avoid evaporation will provide a suitable source of water as well.

We all need to take simple steps around our homes, farms, and forests to provide an environment that is healthy for bees. Little actions have big results, so next time you are at the nursery take a moment to pick a plant that will not only benefit you, but benefit the honey bees as well.

Explore the Other Parts of the Bee Info Series Here:

The Bee Info Series was produced by the Washington Ag Forestry Class 37. Several of the members of this class authored the articles as part of a public policy project. If you want to learn more about the Ag Forestry program visit their website: http://agforestry.org/

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