Get Involved

There is good news! Bees and other pollinators do not require much area for nesting and foraging. This means actions you take can make a huge difference. [1]

Make a Bee-Friendly Garden

For the best possible harvest, create a welcoming garden for bees. In order to attract bees to your backyard or garden follow these three steps:

1) Provide nutritious bee food by planting certain flowering plants

2) Make a bee bath

3) Build a bee house

1) Providing nutritious bee food

  •  Choose a variety of flowers that are rich in pollen a
    nd nectar that bees can easily access from spring until late summer. This will ensure that there is always food available at different crucial times of the bee and hive’s lifecycle.
  • Hybrid plants are usually sterile and of little use to pollinators. Native plants or heirloom varieties are best for bees.
  • Native plants attract native bees and exotic plants attract honeybees. Plant both!
  • Bees have great colour vision – they are especially drawn to blue, purple, violet, white and yellow flowers.
  • Plant flowers of a single species in clumps instead of scattering them so bees are more likely to locate them.
  • A variety of flower shapes will benefit a diversity of bees with different tongue lengths.
  • AVOID USING PESTICIDES – especially when the plants are in flower. [2]

Plant a few plants from each of these groups below throughout the different seasons to ensure bees have plenty of food! All these plant species listed are native to Canada.

Early Blooming  (March-April) Mid-Season(May-June) Late(July-August)
Blueberry Blackberry Aster
Cottoneaster Cat Mint Beggar’s Tricks
Crabapple Catnip Borage
Cranberry Chives Coneflower
Crocus Dahlia Cornflower
Foxglove Hyssop Cosmos
Heliotrope Lavender Goldenrod
Hazelnut Raspberry Pumpkin
Heather Sunflower Sedum
Primrose Yarrow Squash
Willow

The following are fun activities to do with the kids!

2) Make a Bee Bath

An economical and attractive way to make a bee bath is to fill a regular bird bath with stones, such that the top of the stones are still above the water, so they can serve as landing pads preventing the bees from drowning! [2]

3) Build a Bee House

Solitary bees are the type of bees that will set up their nests in your bee house these bees do not live in hives.

Here are some instructions on how to make your own bee house for the garden!

  • Use a box about the size of a milk carton and open it on one side. Note: you can actually use a milk carton; just cut the top off.
  • Paint the exterior of your bee house a bright colour with low-toxic paint.
  • Fill the box with nesting tubes – you can buy these or make your own by wrapping a sheet of brown paper around a pencil and taping it into a tube. The tubes should be ab
    out 6 inches long and sealed at one end.
  • Lay tubes horizontally in the bee house.
  • Place the bee house at eye-level in an area that is sheltered from the rain and facing south or east.
  • The bees will build their nests with clay, so either dig down to a layer of moist clay in the ground below your bee house or keep a bowl of moistened clay available nearby.
  • You can buy bee houses online, experiment with alternative designs, use an old pot instead of a box, or simply drill nesting tube holes in a block of wood in order to create your own bee house.  [2]

What to Avoid in your Bee Garden

  • Some species such as rhododendron and Himalayan balsam habitually escape from gardens and invade wild habitats nearby. These specie
    s are m
    ost likely best to be avoided.
  • There are certain flower shapes that are impossible for umblebees to collect pollen and nectar from. For example, some flowers have petals that form long tunnels, which are too long or narrow for the bees to feed from. Furthermore, flowers with multiple tightly packed heads make it accessibly difficult for bees to extract food.
  • Some flowers produce little or no pollen and nectar such as pansies and double begonias. This is often a result of selective breeding by horticulturalists for their pleasing appearance.  [3]

SWEET VIDEO: HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN BEE BATH AND HOUSE

What else can you do?

ENCOURAGE!

  • Encourage your local council to enforce pollinator-friendly policies and to maintain and develop pollinator habitat.
  • Encourage local clubs and schools to build pollinator habitats such as butterfly gardens and bee houses.
  • Support agriculture businesses with pollinator-friendly practices such as farms that avoid or minimize pesticide use.
  • Encourage the government to take into account the economic benefits of wild pollinators and their habitat when creating policies for agriculture and other land uses. [1]

Other Tips (from local beekeeper):

  1. Plant clover in your bee-friendly garden as it is easy to plant and grows all year long;
  2. Keep dandelions on your lawn while they are in bloom;
  3. Support local beekeepers. This means buying good quality honey that is unpasteurized;
  4. Have diverse colonies if you are a beekeeper.

Sources

[1] Suzuki, David. “Pollinators…What’s The Buzz?” David Suzuki Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2012. <www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/…/pollinator_fact_sheet_final.pdf>.

[2] Suzuki, David. “Create a Bee-friendly Garden.” David Suzuki Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2012. <http://www.davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/food-and-our-planet/create-a-bee-friendly-garden/&gt;.

[3] “Gardening for Bees | Bumblebee Conservation Trust.” Gardening for Bees | Bumblebee Conservation Trust. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2012. <http://bumblebeeconservation.org/get-involved/gardening-for-bees/&gt;.

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