Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

It's Time To Bee-gin Thinking About Bees!


It's never, ever, ever, too early (or too late) to begin thinking and planning for bees in your garden.  Of course when I say bees, I really mean all the pollinators!

Of course, I appreciate all the pollinators at Clay and Limestone, but, my favorite are the Bumble Bees.  They won my heart dozens of years ago when I notice how hard they worked. They were always the first pollinators up and about in the garden each morning and the last to leave each night. They weren't picky about flowers and visited any nectar and pollen producer I planted.  

They were a joy to watch and made me smile.  I found them sleeping on cool spring and autumn mornings  (yes, you can gently touch them) and  watched them nectaring and gathering pollen on the last of the ex-asters late in November.  They were the hardest working creatures in my garden and I wanted to learn as much as I could about them.

I learned that they are social bees that build nests in the soft earth or leaf litter.  

I learned that they are generalist and will visit almost any nectar and pollen producing plant, but, like all creatures, they do seem to appreciate a varied diet, so I have planted dozens of different native plants  for them to choose among!

I always knew they were gentle, but, I learned they did not swarm and rarely stung.

I discovered that they are  major pollinators in vegetable gardens and orchards~if you want tomatoes, you need bumbles and if you love orchard crops, berries, watermelon, sunflowers and other fruits you also need bumbles. They pollinate 1/3 of what we eat and that 80% of the world's crops are dependen upon them for pollination.

I read that Bumbles and other native bees prefer yellow, purple, blue, violet and white flowers~But, I've seen them on almost every colored flower in my garden.
 
I also learned that their numbers are decreasing and that gardeners  are important partners in helping them make a comeback.  There's lots we can do~We can plant for them, we can provide water and shelter from the elements; we can provide nesting sites for them,


Salvia azurea

But, there's one thing that we must never do~We must absolutely never, ever, ever use pesticides in our gardens.  I mean never!

Their  future is in our hands
I don't think that's asking too much, do you?

xoxogail

In case you want to read earlier pollinator posts~

Now Is The Time To Bee-gin Thinking About Bees (
here)
This Is The Place To Bee ( here)
If You Could Plant Only One Plant In Your Garden~Don't (here)
Must Bee The Season of The Witch (here)
Go Bare In Your Garden (here)
We can't All Be Pretty Pollinators (here)
Eye, Eye Skipper, Big Eyed Pollinators (here)
What's In Your Garden (here)
Royalty In The Garden~Monarch Butterfly (here)
Carpenter Bees (here)

Got Wildflowers?(here)
It's Spring and A Gardener's Thoughts Are On Pollinators (here)
The Wildflower and The Bee (here)
A Few Good Reasons To Plant Milkweek (here)
Got Shade? You Can Have Pollinators ( (here)
A Pollinator friendly Shrub (here)
Big Goings On at C and L (here

Where Have All My Pollinators Gone (here)

Other bee posts you might want to read~


Count Yourself Lucky To Have Hoverflies (
here)
Bumblebee Hotel (here)
Still Taking Care Of Bzzness (here)
My Sweet Embraceable You (here)



Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone."

32 comments:

  1. You are the Voice of the Bees, dear Gail, and other pollinators as well. Beautiful images help remind us of the wonders of wildlife in our blooming gardens.
    xxxooo
    Frances

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  2. I, too, am anxiously awaiting the return of my friends the bumbles. We've had honeybees visiting but no bumbles, yet. I hope this unusual warm winter doesn't disrupt their natural cycle.

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    1. Julie, I do, too. It's exciting to think about a mild late winter but,there's always the chance that it will morph into 2007! Yikes. I must go to my happy place and think about the buzzers! gail

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  3. I adore the pollinators and especially the sweet bumbles. I will say this . . . mine got a bit cranky in the horrible heat of summer last year. In July, it never got cool enough for the darlings to rest. They packed onto that Celosia and didn't want me near. Poor bumbles. I hope for a better summer this year.~~Dee

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    1. Dee, I bet they did~the heat was devastating and with fewer plants they must have been very territorial! They are so lucky to have you as a steward of the garden. gail

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  4. I've already noticed several of the smaller bees out and about. Very early. I'm just hoping that we don't end up with damaging cold later!

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    1. Dave, I know, I worry that we will have a repeat of 2007! The late freeze is one thing, but, a drought flowing that would be devastating. I've seen little bees, gnats and flies, too. gail

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  5. I totally agree...I have a special soft spot for the Bumbles...they are so docile and hard-working. I think I'm happiest when I walk out through the garden and can hear their constant buzzing...it's a little sign that all is right in the world (well, at least in the garden)! My neighbors have actually commented that they don't even remember seeing bees in the neighborhood before we moved in and started the garden...it always makes me smile :-)

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    1. Scott, I love that buzzing and agree that it does signal~"All is rightbwith the world". gail

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  6. That was a great idea to include your older posts about pollinators. During the winter I miss the bees and other pollinators. I get such a kick out of seeing them roam around the garden. When I first saw a bumble sleeping, I thought it was dead. It was so nice to discover it was just napping. I miss them even more as I talk about them...

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  7. We love our bumbles here, but their numbers are in significant decline. We mostly see the yellow-faced bumble bee in our garden, on lavender, and deerweed, and I'm always happy to see them. I know there's some suspicion that some of the diseases affecting honey bees are being shared with bumble bee populations, so the declines of both populations may be linked. I agree though, no pesticides. They need all the positive support from gardeners they can get to help ensure their survival.

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  8. I just saw my first bee today! It wasn't a bumble, but it's awfully early here for any kind of bees--I think they're as confused by the warm weather we're having as I am. Thank you for all the wonderful information about bumbles. Coincidentally, I just posted some photos of my bees from last year, too. There was a time when I actually was rather afraid of them--my brother had some nasty stings when he was young, after a nest was disturbed. But I have since discovered what gentle creatures they are; we happily co-exist in harmony in my garden. You can be sure that I'll be providing some of their favorites--all pesticide-free!--in my garden again this year.

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  9. I totally agree with all of that, Gail, but you've said it in a way that makes it seem so fresh and so thought-provoking that I think i shall look at my bumblebees with new eyes this spring. There was a study here in the UK, published last year, that showed wild pollinators make an even bigger contribution than honeybees. Here's the link, if you're interested. http://planetearth.nerc.ac.uk/news/story.aspx?id=996

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    1. Victoria, Thank you so much for the kind, kind words and the link. I shall pop over there to read it. I think native bees are key stone critters and we must take care of them. gail

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  10. Brava! Brava! Dear Gail, Truly an awesome posting for the beloved bees and other pollinators. Your last image nearly brought tears. We must do our part to protect the precious life around us. You are an inspiration! Stunning photography my friend.
    Thank you! Carol

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    1. Carol, I just love them~and appreciate the role they play in my garden and the world! I do love how gentle they are in the autumn! They tolerate me so much better then...Thank you for your always kind words and support. gail

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  11. I can't wait for the first bee...maybe they will arrive early...I hope so...mine do not like if you get too close to their ground nest and will attack but otherwise they just hang around going from plant to plant...they are such hard workers!! And of course pesticides are not allowed.

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    1. Donna, Me either~Hoping that I have some blooms for them~I might buy a few annuals to offer them nectar. Even after all these years I haven't found their nests! I must follow one home one day!

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  12. The program at the Greenfield Garden Club Annual Meeting was a selection of fabulous photos of flowers and bees and butterflies - but yours are even more amazing.

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  13. Love seeing your sweet bumble photo collection. I can't wait to see these bruisers cruising the garden. We had a honey bee in the garden yesterday. Unbelievable for February.

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    1. Lisa, I've seen a honeybee on the dandelions! Amazing that they are out and about! I think there's a beekeeper nearby here...Although, I am ready for spring, it's just too soon and I worry that Mother Nature will zap us with a freeze. gail

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  14. No pesticides here, I love 'my' bees. They seem on the comeback here and I am keeping my fingers crossed for their recovery. Beautiful bee photos.

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    1. Donna, My fingers are crossed too that they make a recovery. Thank you for the sweet compliment. gail

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  15. I snuck back to see the photo of the "bee in hand", only to discover when I looked closer 3 other creatures having their way with your goldenrod. This will be year 3 - no pesticides or herbicides in Ontario (year forever for me) - and you know, our gardens are just as lovely as they ever were.

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    1. Barbara, That's so true and your garden is beautiful! When we have a variety of plants in the garden more predators arrive to take out the bad bugs. gail

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  16. Did you see that Catherine of A Gardener in Progress spied a butterfly in her garden today? Amazing. Love your photos. I look forward to seeing the buzzers in my garden soon.

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    1. Grace, No I haven't but I will head over there right after I finish replying to comments! Hope you have a marvelous week. gail

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  17. Gail this is a lovely posting and one that is close to my heart too - the bees and pollinating insects are v. precious and have tried my best here and in clients gardens to plant as many suitable plants for these insects as possible. You've taken some stunning photos which make me dream of summer - it's SO cold here in Brittany at the moment - thus giving me a break from work and valuable time to catch up on some of my favorite blogs... take care Miranda x

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  18. There are beekeepers near my house whose bees visit my organic, pesticide-free garden daily in the summer. When I hear their buzz, I know summer has finally arrived. Whenever I hear someone say they don't like plants that attract bees I explain that I've never been stung, except for once and it was completely my fault. :o)

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  19. Gail, your pix and info are superlative as always. In my new NC home, I'm amazed to be seeing bees - though not bumbles - even in January and February on plants like winter honeysuckle, which seems to bloom all (this mild) winter.

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.


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