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Have you missed the bees? Want to help?Posted Monday, November 5, 2007, at 10:17 AM
Just trying to do their job.
The hummingbirds made a quick exit this year and I was expecting yellow-jackets to take over, but it was actually honey bees, for a few days, then gone again. Now, no one.
While researchers are trying to solve this situation, we can do something for our local "wild bees" and that is "grow flowers".
WHAT TYPE? Open petal varieties where you can see the pistils and stamens. If you can not see them, the bees can probably not get to them. Marigolds, double hollyhocks, are examples. Surprisingly, Impatiens and annual salvias do not produce much food either.
I am not usually a big flower gardener, but this past year put in strips of wild flowers between gardens. Luckily I chose low water varieties. Some are still hanging in there with no added watering.
Try for three seasons of blooms, especially in spring when they are coming off the long winter. Flowering shrubs and trees, borage, calendula, lilac, or similar plants are good choices.
Keep water around with very shallow or muddy areas so they can get a drink. Muddy areas will help them get some of the minerals they need. Ever notice the butterflies in little puddles or wet spots?
Here is one that I would not think about since I have always been taught to cover the ground with mulch. Many wild bees are individual dwellers and used holes in the ground to live and raise their young. To do this they need bare ground that is well drained and sunny.
That is going to be hard to do, but if you can scatter little pockets a bare ground among your flower beds,and on a few steep slopes, more bees will have a chance. You could also try out these wood blocks and commercial homes for bees.
It sounds like a lot of work, but more bees, means better pollination for your veggies, so it may be a good trade-off.
Anyone out there know how honey bee producers feed their hives sugar water? Can you give us suggestions on how to provide feeding stations? Will it help?
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Steve Mills and his wife have one daughter and live on a farm outside of Bell Buckle. They previously owned two coffee/ice cream shops, currently operate an internet sales company and teach classes, but his primary job involves the paper industry worldwide. Hobbies and interests lie in gardening, photography, recorded music and of course, their pets.
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