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Top 10 Tips for Planting for Honeybees

Before getting started on your yard this season, check out these top 10 tips for planting a garden built for honeybees.

| March 2018

  • Having bees in your garden will benefit both honeybees and your plants.
    Photo by Pixabay/Agzam
  • “Planting for Honeybees” by Sarah Wyndham Lewis teaches gardeners to use their backyards to give the honeybee population a helping hand.
    Photo courtesy of Quadrille Publishing

Planting for Honeybees (Quadrille, 2018) by Sarah Wyndham Lewis is a guide to help gardeners attract these friendly buzzing bees to their yards all season long. Wyndham Lewis also gives readers a look into the world and history of honeybees, showing why it is so important that they stick around. In the following excerpt, she gives her top 10 tips for planting a garden for honeybees.

If you read nothing else in this whole book, please read this chapter. Armed with these guiding principles, you’ll be able not only to plan your own space, but also to impress friends with brief but impressively knowledgeable lectures on how to plant specifically for honeybees!

1. Quantity, Quality and Variety

Plentiful supplies of varied forage are essential to help honeybees withstand the impact of disease and harmful environmental factors. In a single foraging trip, a honeybee will visit around 100 flowers, and she (all worker bees are female) will make around 10 to 15 trips in a day. So that’s at least 1,000 flowers a day, and this is a conservative estimate – it’s said that a honeybee might visit up to 5,000 flowers on a productive day.

2. Four-Season Planting

Although March to September are the key months for honeybees, they will fly whenever the temperature is above 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit), even in the depths of winter. So early- and late-flowering plants are especially valuable. Ideally, plant ‘sequentially’ so that there is always something in flower.

3. Mow Less and Love Weeds

Many so-called lawn ‘weeds’ provide precious forage. Mow lawns but less often and leave some areas to grow wilder. This encourages useful species to grow, such as daisies, trefoil, clovers and especially dandelions, which are vitally important as an early season nectar source.

4. Bees See Blue

The photoreceptors in honeybees’ eyes see from yellow, blue and green right up into the ultraviolet (UV) light scale. This makes blue, violet, purple and white flowers especially attractive to them. They can also distinguish orange blooms, but the color red looks black to a bee, making red flowers unappealing. Some flowers exploit UV light to alert bees. The outer edges of the petals reflect UV light, while the nectar-rich centers absorb it to present a dark patch (rather like a bull’s eye), signaling the perfect landing pad.

4/13/2018 10:48:51 AM

can bright flowers be grown in semi-tropical condition for bees instead of using non-native flowering plants?

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