Karl Foord, UMN Extension Educator
Pollinator Blues - Part II
To approach the problem of creating a bee friendly garden,I first researched the plants that are pollinator friendly and created a table of pollinator friendly plants from the Xerces site (Exhibit 1).
Second, I used the following recommendations from the Urban Bee Garden site as criteria for selecting plants; the goal being to insure that continual bee floral food will be available for the complete growing season.
1. Plant a minimum of three plant species that bloom at any given time during the growing season i.e. spring, summer and fall.
2. Each species of flower should be planted to a minimum patch size of approximately 5 ft. x 5 ft. Patch size is important because smaller patch sizes will often be ignored, even if the plant is quite attractive to the bees.
3. Higher bee diversity and abundance occurs when gardens have a rich assortment of bee plants. It also appears that bees remain longer in a garden if plant diversity is high.
Third, I then took an inventory of my present plants and estimated their flowering periods (shown in yellow on Exhibit 2). Fourth, I considered the areas available for planting shown in my property. Given the patch size and species diversity recommendations, I chose six plants to fortify my local bee garden, as follows: Milkweed (Asclepias), Single flowering Roses (Rosa), Catmint (Nepeta), Russian sage (Perovskia), Cosmos (Cosmos), and Lavender (Lavandula). These plants were chosen for attractiveness to bees and longer flowering periods.
I hope that you will consider increasing the attractiveness of your plantings to bees, if appropriate. Taking an inventory of the flowering periods and bee appeal of the plants that you presently have is a good first step. Then choosing plants from the table to supplement, if necessary, should enable you to increase the appeal of your bee garden.