By in Gardening

Using Your Landscaping to Help Bees Survive in Autumn and Winter

Almost everyone knows that without , 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 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 .

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.

I took the photo.

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.

I took the photo.

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 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 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

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bestwriter wrote on October 27, 2014, 2:04 AM

This post was such an inspiration for me to visit my garden to check if there was a bee hive already and I saw one. I have written a post on that. Your input is great BarbRad

MegL wrote on October 27, 2014, 9:02 AM

Rosemary is a plant that grows over here, so I might try planting some of that. But the bees love the poppies we have in our garden.

SLGarcia wrote on October 27, 2014, 9:10 AM

You have some beautiful pictures here. Being in Minnesota everything freezes all winter. We are hoping to plant a large garden next spring, along with some apple trees, which I imagine will make the bees happy here. I'll keep in mind your information about organic seeds.

Feisty56 wrote on October 27, 2014, 10:21 AM

Living in northern Ohio, there is nothing that will winter over to help bees of which I am aware -- besides, those poor insects stop being active here as soon as the temps stay below 50 or so. I do appreciate the information about organic seeds and plantlings, though, and will keep that in mind come spring. Shared to social media to help spread this important message.

tafmona wrote on October 27, 2014, 11:14 AM

wow, many people don't realize the importance of bees, I love this post, keep sharing my friend

BarbRad wrote on October 27, 2014, 12:06 PM

I've made some comments on that post now.

BarbRad wrote on October 27, 2014, 12:08 PM

That's another great bee plant. I'll write more on this by season. There are just too many great bee plants to put in one post. Some folks think this post is already too long.

BarbRad wrote on October 27, 2014, 12:12 PM

It's not just seeds. The plants you buy from big box stores, the ones that aren't organically grown, are likely to have been raised from these seeds, especially if the plants are guaranteed to survive or your money back. Also, plants planted in ground that has been subjected to one of these pesticides can get pick them up from that ground for up to six years. I'm glad I didn't let my gardener talk me into using something on my lawn to kill the dandelions. Bees love those, too.

BarbRad wrote on October 27, 2014, 12:15 PM

Thanks for sharing. It was recommended that we keep some sugar water out for bees in the worst part of winter, but bees are active all year here. Yours are holed up in their hives and surviving from the honey they have stored there.

BarbRad wrote on October 27, 2014, 12:18 PM

Without bees there would be little food for animals or people.

AngelSharum wrote on October 27, 2014, 1:27 PM

Interesting information. I didn't know that stores put stuff on flowers to keep bees away.

tinamarie wrote on October 27, 2014, 1:54 PM

The pictures of beautiful! Some great advice going there too.

LoudMan wrote on October 27, 2014, 3:49 PM

What a great topic! Yes, our bees are sacred and they are sacred for very god reasons.

BarbRad wrote on October 27, 2014, 10:50 PM

The purpose isn't to keep bees away, but to keep insect pests that destroy plants away. The pollinators like bees and butterflies are harmed with them. Some of the poisons are to prevent weeds from growing, as well as to kill insects.

BarbRad wrote on October 27, 2014, 10:51 PM

I wish it were easier to put more of my plant photos here, but it's so hard to find them in the gallery to insert them.

BarbRad wrote on October 27, 2014, 10:52 PM

The bees sort of grow on you.

Fractal wrote on October 27, 2014, 11:11 PM

I grow quite a few Bee-Friendly plants and am blessed with many visits from them throughout the year. Winter of course keeps them inside so not many about.
A nearby neighbour keeps bees and has recently added to his collection. All power to beekeepers.
We need bees, simple fact!

OldRoadsOnceTraveled wrote on October 28, 2014, 2:21 PM

You know I love me some purple flowers! The rosemary is beautiful. I really like the coyote brush, too. I don't know that I've ever seen any before.

JanetJenson wrote on October 29, 2014, 1:24 AM

I should have taken photos of the bees in my rosemary before I cut it back. Don't worry, I left a lot for them. It is blooming profusely and smells so nice.

BarbRad wrote on October 29, 2014, 2:42 AM

We'd get bees again if my husband could still handle the heavy hives. Now we've got a great place for them.

BarbRad wrote on October 29, 2014, 2:43 AM

It's native to the dry west. Maybe your climate isn't suitable for it.

BarbRad wrote on October 29, 2014, 2:44 AM

I love the smell. And what you cut will grow right back.

AliCanary wrote on October 29, 2014, 1:46 PM

Bees adore my huge buddleia (butterfly bush) as well as the butterflies, and also honeybees go mad for my hummingbird feeder. My dad used to be a beekeeper, and so I have a love and concern for bees.

AliCanary wrote on October 29, 2014, 1:49 PM

Bees really love clover, too! My husband is one of those "lawn guys" and tries to get rid of the clover, but I always try to defend it!

BarbRad wrote on October 30, 2014, 12:12 AM

Good for you. I love both clover and clover honey.

BarbRad wrote on October 30, 2014, 12:13 AM

I also have some butterfly bush, but what the bees really love is my black sage.

OldRoadsOnceTraveled wrote on October 30, 2014, 11:45 PM

Probably not. I suppose it is a lot greener here in Georgia.