• Leslie and Scott

Backyard Bee Hives

Updated: Dec 31, 2019

The most important thing that honeybees do is pollinate. What is a pollinator garden, what is the role of pollinators and why is it important? This is a subject near and dear to our hearts. We have two hives in our backyard and we love to watch our busy honeybees, they are like a water fall, constant and flowing. They pollinate our lemon trees, they make our old fashioned damask and english roses bloom text book perfectly, they pollinate our many herbs and it shows, our flowers are vibrantly colored. They also pollinate the entire neighborhood. Our lucky neighbors!

Without pollination, plants won’t reproduce. The honeybee habitat is threatened by any product containing neonicotinoids. That includes many non organic mosquito sprays that contain pyrethrums and companies that spray broadly for mosquitoes such as mosquito squad. They are deadly (https://xerces.org/neonicotinoids-and-bees/ ) to the bee as they are a pesticide. The plant absorbs the pesticide, so the nectar and pollen is contaminated too. Very sadly, when a neighbor does a broad spray with mosquito squad or the equivalent, we lose an entire hive, 160,000 bees, or both within several hours.

Pollinators are honeybees, bats, insects, birds, hummingbirds, the wind, the water, certain animals. The honeybee travels about 2 miles every day to collect nectar and pollen. They then feed the larvae and hive, so we want to plant perennials,

shrubs and trees that are loaded with nectar and are attractive to the honeybee and hummingbird. Color and abundant nectar attract these busy pollinators. The more a bee visits a flower or fruit, the more perfect the shape of the fruit and color of the flower. We are dependent on our pollinators for apples, pears, almonds, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and that is just the beginning of the fruit, vegetable and nut list. This is why we go to great lengths to protect and revitalize the habitat for the honeybee.

There are the little native honeybees that often live in the garden soil or in a block of old wood, as opposed to the honeybees that are tended and kept in proper hives. We think it is important to protect and nourish the pollinator populations, so we do our part to plant vibrantly colored and nectar heavy flowers and shrubs. In this little diagram you see a handful of tried and true perennials that are pollinator friendly and a plan with taller perennials towards the middle and back of the border.

Pollinator gardens are so lovely, people love them, they are layered with native perennials and shrubs, they are loaded with color and they are very soft and flowing providing much cover for the bees. We usually have at least 40-45 different perennial species in a pollinator garden for maximum bloom all summer long. The sketch shows some of our favorite perennials: agastache, monarda, anemone, lavender and gaura. We like to experiment with new perennials and native plants continuously. We visit trial gardens and are always searching for greater diversity in our native perennial and shrub plantings. The results are exciting when we see heavy blooms and gardens scented with an array of fragrance!

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