Christy Erickson – amateur beekeeper, avid gardener, and writer from SavingOurBees
Creating a bee garden is a great way to help the population of these tiny, important creatures thrive, but many people think it’s out of reach due to the size of their space or a lack of knowledge. It’s a lot easier than you may think, however; it just takes a good plan and the right plants.
Because they’re such skilled pollinators, bees are responsible for about one out of every three bites of food we eat in America, but unfortunately they’re dying out rapidly due to pesticides and loss of habitat, among other things. Without them, we would have a very hard time finding a way to keep things like almonds, apples, and broccoli around; in fact, scientists aren’t sure that we could recreate the pollination process artificially, meaning that if bees do die out, our food production resources could be in big trouble.
Aside from the environmental benefits of helping your local bee population find a source of food, starting a garden can be great for your family. Growing your own produce is a good way to be health-conscious, teach children how to tend to things and be responsible for them, and even give back to your community, depending on what you do with it.
Here are some of the best ways you can get started with your own bee garden.
Look at your space
Many people think that because they live in an apartment or don’t have a big backyard, they can’t start their own garden. It doesn’t take much space to make a big impact, however; you can plant herbs in a windowbox, or create a small corner garden. You can even plant flowering veggies in your front yard, where they’ll blend in with the rest of your blooms.
Grow what they love
Bees especially love flowers with large, flat tops for ease of landing, so give them a place to rest by planting sunflowers and black eyed Susans. Some bee enthusiasts believe the creatures aren’t a fan of red flowers, so plant plenty of yellows, blues, and oranges. For an herb garden, consider sage, thyme, and oregano.
Remember that bees are still around in the fall, and they’ll need plenty of food then, too. Think about planting zinnias, aster, and goldenrod, all of which bees love, when the weather turns cool. Group them in bunches so the bees won’t have too far to go to fuel up.
Bees love veggies, so plot out a garden that both they and your family can enjoy. Broccoli, tomatoes, and cucumbers are a great start and are relatively easy to take care of. For fruit lovers, try raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries.
It’s also a good idea to set out a small bowl of water–or a birdbath–with protruding stones so that bees will have a place to land, get a drink, and rest without drowning. These little guys get thirsty, too!
For more ideas on how to get started with your garden, read this handy guide.
Support your local farmers market
Our local farmers and beekeepers are vital in helping the bee populations thrive, so it’s important to support them in any way possible. Visit the farmer’s market in your town often–even if you start growing your own veggies–to buy local honey and help them stay active in your community.
Helping the bees stay well-fed and healthy is extremely important to our food production process, so help spread the word by sharing gardening tips and where to buy local honey with other members of your community. Let them know how they can help, and think about getting involved by starting a community garden where local kids can pitch in and grow something of their own.