Try and help keep bees alive this season

Published 7:00 am Thursday, February 1, 2018

As January ends and February begins spring is just around the corner. But while it’s still relatively cold now is the best time to start planning and planting your spring garden. When planting a new flower garden this year, it is important to keep functionality – as well as beauty – in mind. Mississippi is home to over 400 species of bees, including honeybees, bumble bees, carpenter bees and sweat bees to name a few. According to Jennifer Buchanan, Educational Program Coordinator at the Crosby Arboretum, there are several things you can take into consideration when building a garden to help these pollinators flourish.

First, when planting a new garden, keep in mind the types of plants and flowers that attract bees. Different species of bees are generally attracted to different types of flowers. According to Buchanan, while butterflies are attracted to brightly colored flowers, bees tend to prefer flowers with darker, or more subdued colors, such as blues, purples, sage and white.

“Bees not only need pollen and nectar, but also fresh water sources,” Buchanan says. 

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Bees are often attracted to swimming pools, but they do not provide a good source of water, as they are typically full of chemicals or salt. Buchanan recommends filling containers, such as pot bases, with water and placing them on the edge of any surrounding tree line.

In addition to food and water, bees also need a place to build their hives and lay their eggs. Some bees build nests in the ground, while others burrow into wood. Each bee species has a particular preference. Buchanan said many bees prefer tubular structures to build their hives. She suggests helping these bees by gathering several hollow pieces of bamboo, tying them together, and attaching them to a tree to provide easy access.

While some (such as carpenter bees and sweat bees) are generally considered a nuisance, all bees are worth protecting and play a key role in keeping the environment alive and well. So do your part in supporting our natural pollinators by adding specific flowers to this year’s garden.