A Bee-Friendly Backyard
This month, Life is a Garden is taking part in the important global conversation about the need for urgent bee conservation. Like you, we are gardeners on a mission! And this month our mission is to #PolliNationSA and gather all the green fingers we can to join us in creating nation-wide, bee-friendly backyards. Here’s how you can help our crop crusaders by planting their faves, making small adjustments to your current garden, and even building homes for these hard workers.
Let’s speak bee
We are inviting gardeners to awaken their inner eco-warrior and consider the bee as an essential service to mankind! The balance of Mother Nature and Her creatures are in a delicate little dance with humanity, with the bees playing an ever-important role in sustaining the following:
- In South Africa alone, over 50 different food crops are dependent on bee pollination.
- The honey bee not only pollinates our fruit and vegetables, but they also improve the weight and quality of them.
- Bees sustain our wild flora, which in turn supports the growth and preservation of almost all biodiversity and ecosystems in South Africa.
- These guys are THE most important group of pollinators visiting over 90% of the leading 107 crop types worldwide.
- Bees also contribute to job creation and employment on a beekeeping and farming level.
- Honey offers many medicinal benefits such as anti-bacterial and diabetic properties.
Planting for bees
Welcoming honey-makers into your garden is easier than you may think. Once you know how to cater for bees, planning your next flower pot or gardening project becomes super easy. Similarly, a few simple additions to your current garden could make all the difference. Here’s what you can plant for bees:
- Herbs such as sage, fennel, lavender, thyme, and rosemary
- Flowers such as sunflowers, coneflowers (Enchinacea purpurea), Cape Daisy (Osteospermum ecklonis), dahlias, roses, Cape Forget-me-not (Anchusa capensis), and cosmos
- Shrubs such as Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis), Aloes (Aloe spp), proteas, September Bush (Polygala myrtifolia), and porkbush (Portulacaria afra)
- Fruits and veggies such as watermelons, cucumbers and pumpkin are a bee-fave!
- When thinking of what to plant next, try picking plants with long blooming cycles, which will keep your yellow friends returning to the garden.
Buzzing advice: Bees love most flowers but they are especially fond of blue and purple buds. Read more about bringing blue hues into your garden here: http://bit.ly/2TUs1N4
The bee’s knees
If your garden is all planted up, not to worry, you can still be the bee’s knees by boasting your pro-pollination garden. Become a bee-warrior, make your mark, and do your bit for the bees by including the following into your garden:
- Group the same plants together to form one square metre of beelicious food.
- Let your plants flower for longer allowing honeybees to come back for seconds.
- Provide a freshwater source such as a birdbath, water feature, or even freshly watered pot plants will thirst quenching droplets.
- Avoid all pesticides and other chemicals as the majority are toxic to bees.
- Flowering weeds are actually a very important food source for bees. Try leaving a weed-friendly section in your garden to show your support for the greater good of life on Earth.
Buzzing advice: Your local GCA Garden Centre has a full range of products for all your bee gardening needs – from spades and rakes to soil and seeds!
Roses are a bee’s best friend
Roses, specifically those with more open blooms, are available in almost every colour imaginable! Roses invite bees with a great variation of scents, flowering for most of the year, and ranging from miniature, bushes and shrub roses, to enormous gorgeous climbers.
How to home bees
Out of all the bee species, the solitary bee is probably the most family-friendly as they pollinate flowers and they don’t sting. These guys are different from honeybees although they look very similar. You can home the solitary bee by building your very own bee hotel. Now that’s a sure win for team-bee! We’ve got step by step instructions for you here: https://www.lifeisagarden.co.za/family-fun-in-the-garden-make-a-bee-hotel/
You may also wish to home some honeybees in an organic hollowed out tree stump. We love this idea as the wood is close to home for the little guys. There are several ways you can go about setting up a natural beehive at home, as well as many DIY ways you could build one. Google is your friend, dear gardeners, and your local GCA will help you bring your idea to life!
Join us, gardeners of all sorts, and lets #PolliNationSA loaded with green thumbs and hearts that beat and buzz for the bees. Let’s get planting, building, and using our resources to make every day a bee-conscious occasion and every backyard a bee-friendly safe-haven. WE can make a difference, and the difference lies in what we can make together. Life is a Garden, how will you sustain yours?