In the Yard

Rhonda Hayes is a garden writer, photographer and blogger. She also volunteers as a Hennepin County Master Gardener. Rhonda chronicles her gardening adventures and advice at her award-winning blog, The Garden Buzz. She is a frequent contributor to Northern Gardener magazine and the Star Tribune Home + Garden section. At Your Voices, she writes about life around the city lakes, occasionally veering off the garden path with essays on the silly and serious issues of the day.

Bee Proactive: Top Ten Ways to Help Bees

Posted by: Rhonda Hayes Updated: April 13, 2014 - 3:16 PM

Bees, and other pollinators are the hot new cause. Thank goodness. And goodness is one of the big reasons. Imagine a summer without blueberry pie, or guacamole or watermelon, or your Aunt Leslie’s cucumber salad to name just a few. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to even try.

Certainly by now you’ve heard that “bees are responsible for every third bite” fact. Well it’s true. And you’d have to be hiding under a rock to have not heard about bee colony collapse and the other troubles facing pollinators, like the Monarch butterfly, around the world.

I’ve been writing and thinking about pollinators just about as long as I’ve been writing about gardening. In fact my blog’s name, The Garden Buzz is a tip of the hat to these incredibly important insects. It’s good to finally see the pollinators getting room in the press.

                                                                                                               Photo by Rhonda Fleming Hayes

Fifteen years ago while taking a rest between watering and harvesting in my kitchen garden I sat down on the bench and started looking, really looking at all the tiny creatures buzzing around the veggies and flowers. It was one of those aha moments.

From that moment on my garden would not only feed my family but I made sure I was feeding and encouraging the wildlife that visited as well. For me it’s not a trendy cause but second nature to my gardening life.

This past week when I attended a talk by Dr. Marla Spivak, entomologist and bee guru at the University of Minnesota she mentioned the many ways everyday folks like us can help turn around things for the bees. But I loved her first piece of advice. She told everyone to take a chair out to the garden and watch the bees. I can only second her suggestion.

Here’s hoping you’ll have an aha moment too. As the gardening season begins in the following weeks I’ll be going into greater detail about each of the top ten tips for supporting bees that you can put into practice in your own yard. Feel free to email or comment any questions in the mean time.

Top 10 Bee Friendly Practices

1. Use native plants in your landscape.

2. Tolerate dandelions, creeping Charlie and other helpful weeds.

3. Plant an herb garden and let a portion of it bloom.

4. Provide a safe water source.

5. Consider planting a bee lawn.

6. Leave some bare soil and garden debris in your yard.

7. Support local beekeepers/buy local honey.

8. Avoid pesticides/apply responsibly only when absolutely needed.

9. Ask nurseries and garden centers to disclose and label pesticides.

10. Support legislative initiatives that protect pollinators.

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