The vanishing bee population alarmed me enough to research the subject. There isn’t one cause, but many, including insecticides and lack of appropriate flowers. This inspired me to create a bee and butterfly garden.
The first thing I did was used no insecticides. Second, I used no herbicides. Many of the wild flowers, thistles, and clover that herbicides kill actually feed the bees. Natural fertilizers, such as crushed eggshells for calcium, coffee or tea grounds for growth spurts, and chopped up banana peels for potassium, replaced commercial ones.
An insect house installed under the eaves of my shed provided a quiet place for the bees to rest and escape the weather. Two bees of the bumble variety took up residence. I could no longer visit the house without the aid of binoculars since bees will leave if disturbed.
Now, I was ready for the planting part. I did have some butterfly bushes, roses, and coneflowers from the previous years. I quadrupled the number of sunflowers I usually plant to line the fence. The local master gardener sale supplied the rest of my flowers at a remarkable price.
Marigolds and daisies of the single bloom variety grow side by side with the wild flowers. Single bloom plants provide more nectar than the showy double bloom type. Once committed to the idea of a bee garden I needed flowers that bloomed from spring to fall. Crocus in the spring, coneflowers and Flavia in the summer, among others, sunflowers in the late August and at the end of the season the late blooming goldenrod, asters, and sedum would serve.
Herbs also provide food for the bees and butterflies. Some I harvested, but others I allowed to bloom and go to seed. This year I skipped the tropicals and exotic plants and went for native flowers such as columbine and bee balm.
When I water the flowers, liquid settles on the broad leaf ones creating tiny ponds that attracted bees. This inspired me to make my own bee bath by using a shallow dish filled pebbles and rainwater. The saucer stays in the same place on the picnic table making it easy for the bees to find it.
As for the bees, I have dozens in the yard. The bees pollinated my garden earlier than the previous year. Colorful butterflies visit almost daily. The unexpected plus of my bee garden are the hummingbirds that visit.
Now, I don’t want to mislead and give the impression that everything was easy. Some of my young plants suffered a bunny invasion, which I used fox urine to deter future hop-by feedings. The spring bulb plants were the winter food supply for voles. I’ll be replanting with less vole-friendly bulbs this year.
With so many plants and the spotty summer rains, I installed a rain barrel to help with the watering. The fifty-five gallon drum waters the entire bee garden once. In retrospect, the bee garden is a personal triumph for both the bees and myself.
About the Author:
Morgan writes under the names of Morgan K Wyatt and M.K. Scott. The Morgan K Wyatt novels are traditional romance and romantic suspense, which means they’re the PG variety.
The M.K. Scott books are cozy mysteries she co-writes with husband, Scott. The most recent cozy mystery is Drop Dead Handsome.
When not writing, Morgan can be found in the garden spring, summer and fall. Winter allows her time to plan next year’s garden.