Using Your Landscaping to Help Bees Survive in Autumn and Winter
Almost everyone knows that without bees , it would be hard for people to survive because crops would not be pollinated. For this reason, we should do all we can to help them thrive by using our gardens to help supply what they need.
I attended a talk yesterday at the Golden Oaks Honey Festival in Paso Robles on Landscaping for Bees. The speaker was Anna Rempel. She encouraged us to plant bee-friendly herbs, flowers, shrubs, and trees in our yards. We should keep our eyes open to look for the plants that attract bees in our neighborhoods as we walk around. Since I love bees, I get some idea of what they like because I'm always trying to photograph them. The herbs in my flower beds are covered with bees when they are blooming. I have more photographs of plants bees love than I can share here, but I will show you some of the most important to bees from late summer to to late winter.
I live on the Central Coast of California in North San Luis Obispo County. It can be hot and dry in late summer and in autumn. Many of the plants that bloom in spring and summer are no longer blooming then. This is an especially difficult time for bees to find forage. Two plants that do bloom in autumn and on into winter that bees love are coyote brush and rosemary .
I have written extensively about coyote brush in a HubPages article written under the name WannaB Writer. In that article I show how coyote brush looks at all seasons of the year. I really just thought of it as a weed to try to keep down when I first met it, since it reproduces prolifically and in the most inconvenient places. I wondered what good it was. Since then I have realized that when the North County landscape looks bleak and brown in winter, blooming coyote brush is the one bright spot. It's not very colorful, but does provide white to contrast with the brown of dying weeds and flowers. Below is a female plant blooming in December. Bees love it.
Rosemary is a versatle plant better known to most urban gardeners than coyote brush, which is usually found in wild places and uncultivated areas of larger properties. Rosemary is a useful herb in the kitchen, and it also has a couple of medicinal uses. I love its fragrance and the fact that it is very easy to root in water to get more plants. One could start with just one plant and in three years or so have a hedge made from these rooted plants. Bees would love such a hedge. Rosemary is a treat for bees that blooms almost year round. The photo below was taken in March, but my plants are still in bloom now in October. Rosemary blooms from late summer to early spring where I live. You can see below that the bees love it.
One thing I did not realize is that where you buy your plants can be very important if they are to help the bees. Big box stores often use plants grown from seeds treated with neonicotinoid pesticides which are absorbed into plant tissue and can last up to six years making nectar and pollen toxic to bees. It's much better to buy organically grown plants to avoid such problems.
Another hint in bee-friendly gardening is to group bee plants together so the bees can find them more easily and save energy as they forage by not having to fly so far. Plant clumps of the same herbs or flowers in patches of at least three feet by three feet. With plants like rosemary and coyote brush, individual plants will often grow to that size and larger if you don't prune them back. One coyote brush plant can become a forest in a few years.
I hope this article will encourage you to use your garden or property to help our bees get safely through the winter.
Pictures and content are original and may not be used without permission, B. Radisavljevic, Copyright 2014, All Rights Reserved. The top photo shows a bee enjoying a yarrow plant yesterday, in the last week of October.
Image Credit » I took the photo