Gardens & Bees
An important part of any bee friendly garden is providing suitable water for bees.
Bees need access to water and a bee friendly water source is essential for the success of the colony. Numerous shallow water sources around the garden, all with safe landing areas so the bees can land and drink without fear of drowning is the best option.
Providing abundant water options for bees will assist in preventing the bees seeking to access deeper ponds or swimming pools in the area near the hives. In these deeper pools of water bees tend to drown.
Shallow Bird Baths with pebbles, rocks, sticks, even marbles are all good alternatives. The water does not need to be deep, just ensure it is accessible to the bees when they land of the objects placed within the water. The landing areas prevent the bees wings from getting wet and allows them to fly away after taking their drink.
Pollination is needed for plants to reproduce, and so many plants depend on bees or other insects as pollinators.
When a bee collects nectar and pollen from the flower of a plant, some pollen from the stamens—the male reproductive organ of the flower—sticks to the hairs of the bee's body. When she visits the next flower, some of this pollen is rubbed off onto the stigma, or tip of the pistil—the female reproductive organ of the flower. When this happens, fertilization is possible, and a fruit, carrying seeds, can develop.
Bees collect Nectar and Pollen from plants. Basically, nectar provides an important energy source (carbohydrate) and it supplies a complex range of sugars, whilst pollen provides vital protein and fats.
Bees, Plants, Drought!
If you are prepared to harvest your grey water then here are my top tips for bee foraging plants for summer.
- Tall purple salvia - a good source of pollen and nectar. Attracting European honey and native bees. Flowers year round. Easy to prune. Older prunings make great hollow stems for native bee hotels.
- Nepeta (catmint) mauve spires, growing up to half a metre, attractive to European honey and native bees.
- Perennial Basil - an attractive small bush, small white flowers with nectar and red pollen
- Agastache - perennial, multiple mauve spires, honey bee magnet
- Lilly Pilly - small to medium size tree, covered in flowers in summer.
- Duranta - old fashioned, not the Geisha Girl variety, light mauve sprays of flowers attracting native (cuckoo, blue banded) and European honey bees. Flowers for months. Can be pruned into a ball tree or hedge but it does have thorns.
European honey bees only collect nectar and pollen from the same species of plants on any one trip so they want lots of a particular flower. Plant at least 3 salvia’s, or nepeta’s or perennial basil, or agastache, so the bees will have plenty of flowers. I grow rows of salvia and only prune one row at a time, salvias require regular pruning to encourage flowering and compactness, or just remove old flowers regularly.
The above plants are all available from Dallys, ranging in price from $2-$5. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Six Hills Giant
Garden related resources.
Free to Download. Bee Friendly - Written by Mark Leech.
A planting guide for European honeybees and Australian native pollinators.