Few have noticed but there is a fairly serious shortage of honey bees in both the United States and Europe, like we have never seen before. With the advanced use of pesticides, and sprawling urban development, people are killing them off faster than they can repopulate themselves. This condition has reached such epic proportion that the horticultural industry has labeled it Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).
It seemed to start in the winter of 2006, when bee keepers reported seeing abnormally high losses in honey production. Penn State’s Entomology Department has been studying the issue ever since.
There appears to be a strange loss of adult bees in and around the hive, resulting is less labor to perform the same amount of work. Either these bees are not surviving to adulthood, or they are simply not reproducing themselves as fast as they used to. Either way, it amounts to as much as 1/3 of the entire US bee population being lost or destroyed as a result.
Research indicates that there is a perfect storm of environmental, arthropod and disease factors that have resulted in CCD. Native plants have been replaced with exotic varieties that are not advantageous to honey bee populations, and the pesticides used on lawns and other vegetation has hit the bee population hard in recent years, so it is up to us to intervene.
There are several things that gardeners can do to help the honeybees, some of these items include;
- Plant a variety of flowering plants in your designs. This will provide food from early spring to late fall and ensure that the bees will be able to store enough food to last all winter.
- Create a flowering weed patch that will attract bees to certain kinds of plants. Consider it a ‘wildflower garden’, sectioned off just for the cause.
- Be selective about using pesticides. There are many environmentally friendly ones to choose from, that will help reduce the impact made to bee colonies in your area. Horticultural oil and insecticidal soap have no residual activity after the spray has dried and botanical insecticides such as pyrethrins and neem oil also have a short residual activity, often breaking down within several hours of exposure to sunlight.
- A shallow spot of standing water is another nice addition to any garden. Bees like to come to places that will offer them all they need before they go home for the night. A few rocks placed in a pan or dish will allow them to rest as they stop for a drink.
Below is a list of plants that will help the bees overcome their massive plight, and still make your yard look great. Together we can all help restore these wonderful and vital gate keepers to the gardens of America.
Trees & Shrubs
Red Maple, Butterfly Bush, Buttonbush, Redbud, Summer sweet, Hawthorn, Inkberry, American Holly, Apple, crabapple, Black Gum, Sourwood, Cherry, Black Currant, Black Locust, Blackberry, Raspberry, Linden, Blueberry, Arrow wood
Annuals & Perennials favored by bees
Anise hyssop, Root Beer Hyssop, Ornamental Allium, Butterfly Weed , Aster, Borage, Cosmos, Crocus, Purple Coneflower, Viper’s Bugloss, Globe Thistle, Joe-Pye Weed, Fennel, Blanket Flower, Snowdrops, Perennial Geranium, Sunflower, Lavender, Shasta Daisy, Blazing Star, Four O’clock, Mint, Bee Balm, Catmint, Basil, Oregano, Russian Sage, Garden Phlox, Mountain Mint, Sage, Pincushion Flower, Goldenrod, Germander, Thyme, Verbena, Ironweed, Zinnia
If you are considering some new landscaping design Minneapolis Metro this year, give us a call at 952-292-7717. Architectural landscape and Design is here to help you.