Flowers are food for bees, and the more flowers we plant, the more food there will be to support healthy bee populations. Planting good pollen and nectar floral sources like sunflowers, apple trees, and willows are great ways to help our native pollinators. In the coming growing season I will be testing out some cover crops in some of our gardens, which helps to add nutrients and organic matter to the soil. This works in two ways to not only increase the overall health of the soil, but it helps me to remain a pesticide and herbicide free landscape. Reducing or eliminating pesticides and herbicides are also key in helping to save bees. When growing crops, crop rotation, planting multiple varieties of plants, mulching and using drip irrigation all help to discourage the spread of plant pests and diseases. Using practices such as these, there is less need for pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers, which all help to keep healthy habitat available for all pollinators. Many consider using Roundup and other herbicides for weed control on plants such as dandelions. Dandelions are some of the first available foods for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. They are an excellent source of pollen in the early spring when food is scarce and bees are working hard to raise young.
Young bees need pollen in order to develop into healthy adults. As habitat loss and pesticides increase, it is ever more important to plant more flowers, and use less pesticides. Every plant, shrub or tree you add to your landscape could potentially feed a bee. Look for those plants that provide pollen or nectar, or even better both. For more information on beekeeping and pollinators check out these links.