Do you enjoy gardening? Do you enjoy having bees around to help pollinate your plants? The very mild weather we enjoy in the East Bay makes our region perfect for a garden of flowers or plants that can help our local bee population. Pollinator bees, in general, have been on the decline due to a variety of environmental impacts including pesticides, changing climate, habitat loss and mites. You can help with your garden. Really!
Reasons Why Bees Are Disappearing
In regions that experience increasingly more rain, pollen will be washed away more easily making it more difficult for bees to provide for their colonies. Meanwhile, in environments experiencing prolonged drought, flower environments may dwindle with dry weather. These patterns lead to less suitable and viable environments in which bees can thrive, and as you know, the East Bay has experienced both weather extremes in the past seven years.
Scientists have long been concerned that pesticides, including possibly some fungicides, may have sublethal effects on bees, not killing them outright, but instead impairing their development and behavior. Of special interest is the class of insecticides called neonicotinoids. Honey bees may be affected by such chemicals when they are used as a seed treatment because they are known to work their way through the plant up into the flowers and leave residues in the nectar. Further, the researchers discovered that bees that ate pollen with fungicides were three times more likely to be infected by parasites. Their study shows that fungicides, thought harmless to bees, may actually play a significant role in Colony Collapse Disorder.
How Can You Help Right in Your Backyard?
This list has been compiled by the staff and researchers associated with The Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on the campus of U.C. Davis. The Haven is located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw, Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, U.C. Davis. The Haven is a unique outdoor museum where visitors can observe and learn about bees and the plants that support them. All the plants on this list can be found at The Haagan-Daz Honey Bee Haven. You can also check local nurseries, as well: Flowerland, Westbrae Nursery, Berkeley Horticultural Nursery, and East Bay Nursery.
Even though you may not be able to host a complete beehive, you, the home gardener, can support and rejuvenate the bee populations in your neighborhood.
Bee Friendly Reminders:
- If possible completely eliminate the use of pesticides. Otherwise, use pesticides carefully. Follow label directions exactly. Apply only what is actually needed and apply at the end of the day when the bees are returning to the hive.
- Plant a diversity of nectar- and pollen-rich plants (10 or more species) if possible. Pollen and nectar are needed at all times, but pollen is especially important in the spring and nectar in the fall.
- Plant for year round, overlapping bloom. Choose plants that bloom in succession over the season.
- Plant in patches of one species.
- Mind the mulch! Leave some bare soil for ground-nesting bees.
- If you have a large enough space, mass each plant in patches 1 square meter or larger.
- Create a “bee bath.” Bees need a place to get fresh, clean water. Fill a shallow container of water with pebbles or twigs for the bees to land on while drinking. Make sure to maintain the container full of fresh water to ensure that they know they can return to the same spot every day.
A sampling of plants that are bee friendly:
California fescue “Phil’s Silver”
You need only a small plot of land—it can even be a window container or rooftop—to create an inviting oasis for bees. Every little bit can help to nurture bees and other pollinators and you can do something very valuable to support our environment for generations to come!
Upcoming Bee Event:
August 12th, 2017 – A guide will be leading a workshop on building native bee condos at the Peralta Community Garden in Berkeley, CA at 1 PM.
Here are more resources for planting a bee friendly garden and how you can get even more involved with the bee project!
Berkeley Hills Realty is dedicated to bringing information to the community that helps us all be better citizens and advocates for the lifestyle we all enjoy here. Please contact us directly if you have a resource that we can share with our community!
Photo Credit: The Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven