Bringing in the Bees, Birds & Butterflies to Your Garden
Pollinators are the gardener’s most important partners. Simply put: what you plant feeds them, what they pollinate feeds you. In this series of blog posts, we’ll explore what you can do to hold up your end of this essential relationship to attract bees, birds, and butterflies to your garden.
Attracting Bees to Your Garden
We’ve all heard that, globally, bee populations are in serious decline. The good news is that bees are actually recovering in urban areas due to the new prevalence of roof top gardens, the renaissance of the home and community vegetable plot, hobby beekeepers, and local regulations that have banned or restricted the use of lawn pesticides.
Unfortunately, for gardeners, the news is not all good, or all bad. Mostly, it’s complicated. One of the first foods available to bees in the spring is the humble and hated dandelion. Sure, its new leaves are championed as a liver cleanser when made into a tea or tincture. Sure, fresh dandelion leaves add a kick to the first mild lettuce and herb salads from the garden. Still, heads of yellow blossoms continue to plague lawn lovers everywhere, especially later, as young children gather up the white fluffy seed heads and blow them into the wind like birthday candle wishes.
If you can’t make peace with the humble dandelion weed for the bees, you’ve got to plan not just a garden, but a landscape to replace their common first food. The grey and fluffy catkins that grace pussy willow shrubs along with the first forsythia blooms and fruit blossoms are delectable to bees who are famished after a long winter of buzzing in the hive.
How to Create a Bee-Friendly Garden
Bees need nectar & pollen.
Plant flowers that bloom at various times of the season so they always have something to eat.
Spring | Foxglove, Primrose, Crocus, Heather, Willow
Summer | Dahlia, Lavender, Sunflower, Raspberry, Catnip
Late | Pumpkin, Aster, Cornflower, Sedum, Squash
Bees like colour!
Here are their favourites – blue, purple, violet, white and yellow.
Native Plants, or heirloom plants, are best!
Plant Flowers that are different Shapes & Sizes
Bees have a variety of tongue lengths, so planting flowers with a variety of shapes will help accommodate a diverse group of bees.
Protect the Pollinators – Learn More
- www.OntarioNature.org – Protecting the Pollinators Campaign
- What are Pollinators? – Canadian Wildlife Federation
- Pollinator Health – Ontario Government
- Create a Bee-Friendly Garden – David Suzuki