How to Make Your Garden Pollinator Friendly

June 13, 2019

Conservationists have expressed concern over the dwindling population of bees. Commercial pesticides are among the biggest threat to bees alongside other gardening practices. By creating a well thought out garden in your backyard, you can create a home for bees and promote the health of the plants. Here are some tips for creating a pollinator friendly garden.

Shun Harmful Pesticides

If you want to create a bee friendly garden, the first thing you need to do is to avoid commercial pesticides. Pesticides, particularly those containing neonicotinoids, are known to be toxic to bees. These chemicals are considered to be the biggest factor that has led to the decrease of insect pollinators worldwide.

 70% of the bees in your garden are non-stinging pollinators. Do not apply commercial pesticides to try to kill beetle larvae or other pests. The strong neonicotinoids will kill all the important pollinators. There are several alternatives you can use instead of these harmful chemicals.

  • Garlic. Garlic can repel insects and pests in your garden. Growing garlic or onions can discourage aphid growth. You can crush garlic and make a spray that you can spray on your flowers. It is important to note that garlic only repels these pests and does not ill or eliminate them.

  • Neem Oil. This is one of the most powerful insecticides you can make at home. It is said to contain more than 50 chemicals that can naturally kill insects. Spraying Neem on the leaf gets rid of leaf-eating bugs but does not kill bees.

  • Soap. You can use soap that does not contain bleach. Shred the soap into pieces, then add water. Shake well before spraying on your garden plants.

  • Eucalyptus Oil. This oil is safe on bees but will repel most of the other insects. Spray on leaves and stems to repel leaf eating bugs.

  • Citrus Oil and Cayenne Pepper. A mix of citrus oil and Cayenne pepper works well on ants and does not hurt bees.

Note that these solutions may be natural and harmless to bees. However, if the solution is too strong, it can also repel bees and other important pollinators from your garden.

Grow Bee Friendly Plants

Encroachment of natural habitats for insects, birds and animals, is one-way human activity ruins ecosystems. The lack of suitable plants for bees has deprived these pollinators of an important source of food. There are certain plants you can grow to ensure that the bees in your garden get the nectar they need.

  • Herbaceous Perennials. These are non-woody plants that flower and reach their full height once a year. They die and grow again in the following spring. They include plants such as lavender and rosemary. They not only attract bees; they also provide food that helps them fight insects and diseases in the hive. There is a wide variety of these plants. Using a combination of herbaceous plant species can provide even better results.

  • Mints. Mints have a great scent and can attract bees to your garden. They also have antibacterial and are a good food source for pollinators. Some examples of mints include peppermint, thyme, rosemary, sage, basil, spearmint, and catmint.

  • Tubular Flowers. Bees also love tubular flowers such as Honeysuckle and Foxgloves. The long-tongued bumble bee is known to love getting into tubular flowers to suck nectar.

  • Purple Flowers. Consider growing a number of plants with purple flowers. Bees respond to purple better than with any other color. Include plants such as lavender, catmint, allium and buddleja.

Build a Bee Hotel

Bee hotels are built as stopovers for bees that travel considerable distances to search for food. Certain species of bees such as the mason bee can use these hotels to nest. Different species need varying types of habitat. Make a point of researching the bee species in your location. It is important to get the right specification so that you can build a suitable bee hotel in your garden.

Otherwise bee hotels are simple to build. You can use bricks with holes drilled in them. You can also use straws and sticks. A well-designed bee hotel could add to the aesthetic appeal for your garden. Building one could also be done as a fun activity with your family.

Make a Bee Bath

Bees need more than flowers and nectar in your garden. They also need a good supply of fresh water. Just like humans, bees need water for digestion and for feeding their young ones. Water is also used to dilute honey in the hive and to keep the hive cool.

A water source is therefore an important part of a pollinator friendly garden. A bowl with clean water is all you need for a bee bath. You can add stones and pebbles to prevent the bees from drowning.

Consider Backyard Beekeeping

If you want a bee friendly garden and have considerable space in your garden, then you may consider beekeeping. Bees and gardens go hand-in-hand. There are many plants you may have that reply on pollination. Pollinator dependent plants in your garden include cucumbers, squash, melons, apples, and strawberries.

If you love gardening, beekeeping can be another related hobby you can engage in. You will need to grow all-year-round flowers to act as a source of food. You will also need to provide clean water. But maintaining a beehive is not complicated and you get fresh honey regularly.

However, it will cost you some money and time to set up a beehive in your garden. First, there is the equipment and installation costs. Second, you will need to learn the specifications outlined in local regulations and building codes. Lastly, you may need to take a beekeeping course or take time to learn by yourself through free resources.

Despite the effort and time the task demands, having a pollinator friendly garden is worthwhile. Bees will help promote healthy growth of plants and shrubs. You will also be helping restore the dwindling population of bees worldwide.