Since the dawn of agriculture in the Neolithic Period, mankind has depended on bees to pollinate food crops. Bees of all varieties put in long days pollinating plant after plant, with some traveling many dangerous miles to complete their thankless work. For the most part, our relationship with bees has been one with much take and little give on our part. We fill our bellies with the delicious food that bees help provide us with and seldom think to return the favor. For centuries, we have taken these hardworking pollinators for granted.
In recent years, however, light has been shed on the struggle of bees, and mankind is realizing their important role in the survival of our planet. A study in 2015 revealed that 42% of the U.S. colonies of honeybees had been wiped out from Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). This phenomenon is not specific to bees of North America, though, a major decline of bees has been noticed all over the world. It is believed that CCD is caused by a combination of factors, such as widespread use of pesticides, loss of safe habitat for bees, climate change and the spread of disease.
It has become apparent that it is time for us to give back to honeybees and other pollinators by providing them with safe habitats, rich nectar plants and avoiding the use of harmful pesticides and herbicides. You may wonder how just one person can have an effect on the dwindling bee populations and help save the planet. The truth is, however, that every person who plants pollen and nectar rich plants, creates a pollinator friendly lawn or avoids dousing the lawn and garden with chemicals can help increase the populations of pollinators.
Even if you have no yard or lawn, a few potted flowers on the balcony or windowsill can provide food and pollen to passing bees. The nutrients a bee receives from sipping on just one nectar plant can provide it with enough energy to continue its arduous journey in order to pollinate a nearby garden or orchard.
Honeybees and other pollinators rely on a variety of plants for nectar and pollen. Pollinator friendly plants include flowering trees, shrubs and vines, as well as perennials and annuals. It is also important to provide a variety of plants that will flower in spring, summer and fall for pollinators. Plants with single flowers are better for bees, as double-flowering plants usually contain less nectar and pollen, and are harder for bees to access. Hybrid plants also generally have less pollen. Below are some common plants that attract bees to the garden:
Shrubs and Trees
- Butterfly Bush
- Fruit trees
- Blanket Flower
Honey producers and beekeepers at Desert Creek Honey are especially aware of the importance of bees to the future of our planet. Its owner, Blake Shook, began keeping bees when he was only 13 years old. Later, he and his wife turned his passion into a flourishing business, which offers an assortment of honey-made products – from raw and unfiltered honey to comb honey, honey sticks, and natural beeswax. They also provide classes on beekeeping and beekeeping supplies.