By Sy Maher
Helping disappearing Bees. Backyard Bee hotels, Bee Baths, Bee Garden.
No single cause can explain the decreasing bee population. There are viruses (varroa mites), pesticides, Colony Collapse Disorder, destruction of habitat, and lack of adequate season-long forage due to land management and weed destruction.
Overall, we already know bees pollinate one-third of all foods and beverages. Pollinators also are essential for flowering plants and plant communities. The number of backyard beekeepers is rising, but you don’t have to bee-a-keeper to help.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Make or purchase a bee hotel for solitary bees. Solitary bees lay their eggs in small holes. Think of a bee hotel or bee box as any frame of wood filled with tightly packed sticks and twigs. The solitary bee will enter the crevices in between the materials and nest. If you see a little mud hole, you can be sure you have a bee nesting in your hotel.
By and large, bees need water. Use any shallow receptacle, place pebbles or marbles in the water container for the bees to rest on. This ensures they don’t drown. Make sure to change out the water frequently to keep mosquitos from laying eggs.
PLANT a GARDEN
Five Plants to grow in greater the Mesa/Phoenix area that helps our Bees.
1. English Lavender US planting zones, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. This plant likes full sun, but certain species of lavender do best near west-facing walls. Bursting with purple and blue blooms, it will flower spring through summer, and some varieties have been reported growing as late as fall. It is an evergreen. Planting time is spring, summer, and fall. This plant prefers sandy, average, low fertility soil, well drained. This plant is aromatic and drought resistant. Lavender attract butterflies, bees, and is very fragrant and has an extended bloom time. Check local sites to get the best choice for your zone.
2. May Night Meadow Sage US planting zones, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. They like full sun. The flower is purple and blooms late spring to late summer. Plant in the spring, summer or fall. The plant likes sandy, like’s average soil and is drought resistant, and attracts butterflies, bees and has an extended bloom time.
3. Creeping Shrubby Ice Plant US planting zones, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10. This plant loves full sun, blooms pink flowers from late spring to early summer, and remains evergreen. You can plant this girl in spring, summer or fall. Drought resistant and a bee-friendly groundcover.
4. Magnus Purple Coneflower US planting zones, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. Again full sun for this beauty. Flowers are pink, purple, and bloom in summer. Plant in spring, summer and fall in compost enriched garden loam soil in average moisture. This plant is a native and attracts butterflies, and bee-friendly, Easy to grow.
6. Flowering Cactus Multiple varieties. Easy to grow and uses less water. All cacti bloom, and fruit. Some do not fruit until they are over thirty years old. Cactus need the assistance of Cactus Bees to pollinate. Not all fruit or cactus are edible. Cacti need the assistance of cactus bees and other pollinators to fertilize. Self-pollination occurs in very few species. Cactus Bees are native, solitary, burrow in the ground, or set up house in dead limbs or dead trees, and are important in pollinating various cacti. There are at least 45 major subdivisions in 7 families, and perhaps as many as 1000 species of bees distributed within the Sonoran Desert bioregion.
LET PEOPLE KNOW WHAT YOUR DOING
Put a sign up that reads
SAVE THE BEES
BEE CONSERVATION IN PROGRESS
You don’t have to use these specific plants. Ask your local nursery to find what’s best for the local bees. You may only want potted plants around a balcony apartment. Every bit of pollen or nectar helps. Indulge your creative side; get Bizzy and SAVE THE BEES.
Happy Gardening from Luckey Bee