When you look out your window, you may see just a small yard or even a few flowers in an unused lot. The space may look nothing like the fancy gardens you see in magazines or on Pinterest. Despite all this, your yard is important, and the world needs your bee-friendly garden more than ever.
Benefits of a bee-friendly garden
You’ve probably heard about declining honeybee and other pollinator populations before. Although you might not have a lot of control over Colony Collapse Disorder, varroa mites or climate change, you do have the power to change one factor that directly contributes to the health of bees and other pollinators: bee-friendly habitat.
Here’s why your bee-friendly garden is crucial to the health of honeybees.
All those gardens add up.
Research from the United Kingdom showed that even small gardens are disproportionately important to a city’s ecosystem because there are so many of them.
Gardens increase biodiversity.
Diversity of plant species within and across personal gardens makes them the most diverse type of habitat in British cities, showed a study called “Biodiversity in Urban Gardens.” It stands to reason that the same is the case here in the U.S. and elsewhere. Bottom line: A diverse habitat supports diverse species, including different types of bees and butterflies.
Gardens provide pit stops.
Honeybees can fly miles from their hive to collect nectar from flowers. Your bee-friendly garden could be a destination for these pollinators—or a quick stop on the way. By providing flowers and a water source, you help honeybees survive the stressors of an urban or suburban environment.
Gardens provide a way for people to interact with nature.
Research shows that people don’t necessarily need a deep forest or other wilderness to feel connected to the outdoors; gardens are also an important way people bond with nature. A Cornell University study found that the more time children spend outdoors, the more they care about the environment as adults—and grown-ups who care are the ones we want making important decisions about our planet.
Gardens are a great place to house a hive.
Contrary to beekeeping myths, you don’t need a huge plot of land to raise bees, and most cities allow urban beekeeping. You can even raise bees on a rooftop. By raising bees in a hive, you provide crucial habitat and a way for honeybees to reproduce—and increase the health and quantity of the overall population.
How to plant a bee-friendly garden
If you’re looking for ideas to make your garden more pollinator-friendly, try these simple changes:
- Reduce or cut out use of pesticides, which kill honeybees as well as unwanted pests.
- Plant flowers that bloom at different times so bees always have a food source in your yard.
- Provide a water source so thirsty bees can rehydrate.
- Build in windbreaks like a trellis, hedge or fence.
What about you—is your garden pollinator-friendly? Do you have plans to incorporate any of these bee-friendly tips?