The Basics of a Bee-Friendly Garden
Bees are the most essential pollinators on Earth. As we learnt in Bees: The Vital Pollinator, the process of “biotic pollination” requires organisms to carry, or move, pollen grains from the anther of one flower to the receptive stigma of another. Bees make the most important contribution to this process: as bees pollinate 80% of flowering plants on Earth – with a single colony able to pollinate an astonishing 300 million flowers every day – bees are the major contributor to the natural floral landscape as we know it. In turn, this makes them very important for humans, as bees pollinate 70 of the top 100 food crops, with fruits such as avocados, apples and cherries being 90% dependent on bee pollination. These astonishing statistics evidence just how vital it is to protect bee colonies, as their pollinating powers make them a key component in both human and animal survival.
However, the sad truth is that honeybees and other bee species are declining, mainly because of habitat loss. How then do we help these vital creatures? A bee-friendly garden will encourage bees to collect pollen and nectar from your own backyard; creating these localised habitats makes a huge difference, not only to the life of bees, but also to the ecosystem at large. Installing a bee house or hive of your own will see an influx of bees to your garden and is a wonderful way to experience the very unique superorganism of a bee colony. Even on a small-scale, many people find this a highly rewarding hobby that is both enjoyable and beneficial for the environment.
You can also attract bees and improve their quality of life by planting a variety of plants bees enjoy. If you find bees visiting your garden and you don’t have your own hive, someone near you may: honeybees usually forage within a radius of three kilometres. There are also feral bee colonies searching for food. However, honey bees don’t like all flowers equally, and it is important to know which plants will be most attractive. Interestingly, they prefer blue, purple and yellow blossoms. Therefore, some popular additions to your bee-friendly garden could be lavender, oregano, sage, thyme, borage, sunflowers, hypericum and tree dahlia. Native bees also require specific plants to thrive, with some good suggestions being cut leaf daisy, flowering gum, pincushion hakea, tea tree, purple coral pea, grevilia pink surprise, native rosemary and bottlebrush.
Aside from planting bee-attracting flora, it is also vital that bees have a fresh water source available, especially during the summer months. By providing a constant supply, bees will frequent your garden. A good tip with water is to ensure that there are some floating or raised materials that protrude to stop bees from drowning. This can be done simply by leaving out a plate of water with some stones on the plate so that the bees have somewhere to rest when they are not drinking. With these additions, your garden will soon become a haven for the greatest pollinators on the planet