Bee-Friendly Gardening Tips
At Kiawah River, we’re big fans of bees. They’re small but mighty creatures, pollinating 80% of all crops we eat. That means that bees are responsible for one in every three bites of food that we eat—making them one of the most important creatures on earth. The recent decline in bees has been well-publicized and calls to “Save the Bees” are everywhere.
Kiawah River strives to make our community pollinator-friendly, particularly for bees. Chuck Hudspeth, our resident beekeeper, maintains several hives throughout the property—prosperous in large part to the abundant flower and produce varietals grown on our working farm. You can also help “save the bees” by making your own yard more bee-friendly. Read on for some tips from one of our favorite gardening websites, The Spruce.
Avoid pesticides. When pesticides are applied, they aren’t selective, they kill off beneficial insects (like bees) as well as harmful bugs. Try to use alternative, non-chemical methods for getting rid of pests. If using pesticides is unavoidable, start with a low-toxicity formula and follow label directions for correct application.
Go Native. Not only do native plants thrive better with less maintenance, but studies have shown that local, native plants are more attractive to native bees than exotic flowers.
Choose multiple colors of flowers. Bees can identify different colors and use their color vision to seek out flowers and the nectar and pollen within. Blue, purple, violet, white, and yellow are especially attractive to bees.
Choose multiple shapes of flowers. 4,000 different species of bees live in North America—and they come in a variety of sizes and have different tongue lengths. To accommodate these differences, plant flowers in different shapes.
Plant flowers in clusters. Pollinators are more attracted to groupings of one species of flowers, rather than individual flowers intermingled throughout the garden. If you can, create clumps around four feet in diameter.
Have flowers blooming throughout the whole season. Aim to have your plants flowering at different times throughout the season. Having perpetual, varied blooms throughout the year will encourage different species of bees, feeding on different plants and foraging at different times, to visit your yard regularly.
Consider your plant placement. Bees prefer sun over shade and need protection from heavy winds.
Incorporating even a couple of these bee-friendly gardening practices into your yard will encourage bees to visit and strengthen their population. Bonus benefit: you will also enjoy the bright, vibrant garden that our friends, the bees, help to propagate. Give a couple of these tips a try!