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Today, May 20, happens to be World Bee Day. Founded to bring awareness to one of the world’s most important pollinators, World Bee Day seems perfect for a post that offers tips to create a bee and butterfly garden.
More than half of the world’s flowering plants require a pollinator to reproduce. Pollinators include butterflies, birds, beetles, wasps, bats, flies and bees. When a bee, for example, lands on a flower the sticky hairs on its body and legs collect pollen. As the bee flits from flower to flower, it transfers pollen, as it collects more, which is crucial for the plants’ reproduction.
Without pollinators, our whole eco-system is in danger. And, unfortunately, pollinators, especially bees, are declining in numbers.
We can help by creating bee and butterfly gardens, to attract and nourish these important species.
Create a Bee and Butterfly Garden
The best way to attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies to the garden is to offer a variety of flowering plants and herbs. As the pollinators do their important work of gathering pollen, they feed on nectar from the flowers.
A great suggestion, from The Honeybee Conservancy, is to feed them throughout the growing season, by including plants that flower in spring, summer and fall.
Spring Blooming Plants
These early bloomers are crucial as food sources at the beginning of the growing season:
- sweet violet
- dianthus (mini carnation)s
Summer Blooming Plants
Many plants bloom during the warm summer months, providing ample food sources for pollinators. Add any of these flowers and herbs to a bee and butterfly garden:
- bee balm
- cone flower (echinacea)
- lemon balm
- black eyed Susan
Hostas in bloom
Fall Blooming Plants
These late bloomers will keep pollinators coming to the garden after summer flowers fade away. Include a couple of these:
- sedum (live forevers)
- witch hazel
- pineapple sage
- Russian sage
Additional Tips to Create a Bee and Butterfly Garden
Try to include flowering plants from all three groups, to offer a continuous feast for bees and butterflies, hummingbirds and wasps. The plants can be grouped together, in a dedicated space. Or spread the plants throughout the garden space. The pollinators will find them.
No yard? No problem. The flowers and herbs listed do well in containers, turning a small balcony or patio into a bee and butterfly garden that will attract and nourish as well as a large space.
Bees and butterflies need a water source. Place shallow containers filled with water throughout the garden. Add twigs for insects to rest upon while they drink, or place containers near ornamental grasses or other upright plants. A bird bath works as well.
Butterflies and wasps enjoy mud puddles. They need the salts and minerals found in the mud.
Do not use pesticides or herbicides in the garden, as they kill pollinators. See Ecological Garden Hacks for natural ways of dealing with pests.
A Home for Many Creatures
One of the things that I most enjoy about my garden is that it is full of life. The plants grow and bloom and multiply. They not only bring me joy and provide healing for me, they offer sanctuary for many creatures.
Along with the plants, I provide natural elements so that beneficial insects and allies make my garden their home. Tree stumps serve as cute, natural containers for flowers, and they allow insects to take up residence there too. Ornamental grasses offer hiding places and blades of grass to rest upon. I have toad and spider houses tucked into my garden and shallow discs that I fill daily with water.
Bees, butterflies, lady bugs, praying mantis, wasps, dragonflies, frogs, toads, spiders, ants, earthworms and many other little critters co-exist in this backyard paradise. They are important to the health and wellbeing of my garden, and to the earth.
I do all that I can to welcome them and create a supportive environment in which they can thrive.
Won’t you join me, for the good and wellbeing of all, and create a bee and butterfly garden?
This amazing painting featured at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks.
Backyard Garden Series
Check out these other posts, in this gardening series:
Click on photos below, to order packages of flower seeds that are perfect for creating a bee and butterfly garden:
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