Plants for Bees
Bees love plants that offer a good supply of sugar-laced nectar, as well as a type of protein-rich pollen. Many types of plants can offer this, but there are clearly some top contenders that provide both, and in vast quantities. Try to plant as many of these as possible to encourage the honey bees to visit frequently. What’s in it for you? Aside from the beauty of the flowers and plants themselves, you will be rewarded with a greater yield in your crops, larger blooms, and less pests.
- Purple Coneflower
- Blue Hyssop
- Mint (of any variety)
Be careful where you purchase your flowers or seed, however. Those plants that are purchased and have been ‘protected’ will often have neonicotinoids, which are a type of pre-treatment with chemicals that many producers use. These can cause trouble for the bees, so plan to only purchase organic seed or flowers from smaller nurseries that offer chemical free plants.
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Did you know that honey produced in your ‘neck of the woods’ has healing properties? Scientists now agree with what beekeepers have known for centuries: honey has medicinal value. Consider that the honey produced locally contains pollen from the area. Those who consume honey made from local bees will build up a tolerance for that pollen, meaning that allergies will diminish. Honey purchased from store shelves may be shipped in from vast differences where the pollen is quite different (if it is real honey at all!). Buy local honey . . . your nose (and your body) will thank you.
Weeds are Not All Bad
There is a Native American tale whose main moral is to assure the people of the Earth that for every disease and problem mankind has, there is a plant to cure it. This, as the tale goes, is an ancient promise that the plants made to the Creator in order to protect the newest of creations . . . mankind. Whether you believe it or not, those weeds that you love to hate . . . may actually be beneficial, not only medicinally, but for the honeybee. Consider that lawns and gardens that are allowed to have a few weeds provide shelter and nutrition for pollinators, and they can still look green and lush. Do your part by providing some ‘wild spaces’ in your garden or yard. The bees, butterflies, and lady bugs will thank you!
Become a Beekeeper
Even if you don’t want to dive headlong into the interesting hobby of keeping bees, you can still be a beekeeper by providing a habitat that the bees prefer, limiting or eliminating the pesticides that you use, and allowing more ‘wild’ places to thrive in your area. Those who wish to pursue the vastly rewarding hobby of beekeeping, and are lovers of all things honey, will need to assess a few factors before beginning. First, and for most make sure you and those around you are not allergic to bees. Do you have a good place for the bees? Bees prefer to have access to water, be in an area where there is not a lot of traffic or disturbance, and there are easy sources of food readily available. When you are ready, then it is a simple matter of purchasing the bee hives (most can be obtained as kits), selecting the type of honey bee, and obtaining the necessary beekeeper equipment. The best thing you can do before starting is to locate and contact your local beekeeping club. Working alongside someone who is already an established beekeeper can help you avoid some of those newbie mistakes that so often kill honeybees their first year.