Bugs are a fact of nature, and a good fact at that. They’re a vital part of the food chain, and over 75 percent of our food crops are pollinated thanks to the help of bugs. Bees are disappearing at alarming rates; impacted by everything from habitat loss to pesticide use. Butterfly populations are on the decline for similar reasons. Green gardens are vital to the health and survival of beneficial bugs. When it comes to bees, there’s more than just the honeybee to think about.
First off, don’t fear the bees. The common myth is that they’re out to sting you. The truth is, bees flitting around your garden are mostly solitary creatures. If there’s no hive to defend, they’d rather avoid you. If you want to attract more bees to your garden, leave some wild habitats for them. Loose, bare soil, brush piles, and dead trees all make attractive bee sites. Keep those bee habitats well away from seating and play areas, and avoid use of pesticides and herbicides. Plant lots of native plants to help support local pollinators. Try planting mixes of different flowering plants, like a fragrant flower garden, or flowers meant to attract butterflies.
Make sure your garden includes water that’s bee friendly—a shallow dish with rocks that are only partially submerged works well. Why not just use a pond or birdbath? Bees are like flying tanks—they’re not particularly good at landing on water. If you prefer a bath or pond feature, make sure there are bee-friendly landing zones near the water.
Want some bee facts?
- Not all bees make honey. In fact, less than 5 percent of bee species produce honey in measurable quantities.
- Not all bees sting. Many species don’t have stingers, which are really modified egg-laying apparatus. Which means, if it’s got a stinger, it’s a female bee.
- Not all bees live in hives. Honey bees live in the classic, well-structured hive. Many bee species, however, are more solitary, or form loose social structures.
- Bees don’t see red. They do see greens, blues and yellows (as well as orange shades), but the real secret to their vision is that they see ultraviolet light.