If you are an avid gardener, you know how great it is to have bumble bees in your garden. Not honey bees, but bumble bees. Bumble bees are friendlier than honey bees and typically, will not sting unless they are being handled roughly or harmed. Unlike honey bees, they do not “swarm”, nor do they attack like wasps. They do not live in hives or make large amounts of honey, but they have equally important roles in the ecosystem. This is why we need to attract and encourage bumble bees into our yards.
Humans have known the value of bees in agriculture for centuries. They are the most effective pollinators in the world and an invaluable resource in agriculture technology. About two-thirds of the world’s crops rely on bees and other pollinators; without them, there would be no fruits or vegetables. As a society, we are just starting to realize their power in bolstering the health and productivity of the home garden. Bees are just too important to be ignored.
By creating a more “bee friendly” yard and landscape, it will be easier for you to attract bees and keep them coming back! Avoid pesticides! Bumble bees, and other pollinators, respond to insecticides and herbicides commonly used for controlling Japanese beetles and Emerald ash borer. Even minimal exposure can cause bees to have problems flying, and they can lose their sense of taste. Planting flowers that will bloom successively over the spring, summer, and fall seasons will provide the bees with nectar and pollen. Perennials, annuals, and flowering trees/shrubs, would all be good resources. Bumble bees drink nectar and eat pollen, nothing else. Bees use a lot of energy as they buzz around looking for food. A flower’s nectar is sweet and gives bees the energy necessary for flying as they search for food. A full stomach will give a bee about 40 minutes of flying time. If it cannot fly, it cannot reach flowers to get nectar, and it will die.
Here are some of the bumblebees favorite annual and perennial flowers; lavender, bee balm, salvia, alyssum, zinnia, asters, joe pye weed, poppies, coneflowers, sunflowers, golden rod, hyssop, and snapdragons. Shrubs include; witch hazel, sumac, elderberry, blueberry, non-invasive honeysuckle, currants and serviceberry.
The disappearance of the bee and other pollinators, may seem trivial to some, and points to a harsh reality for our future. Without pollination, yields and diversity, agricultural crops will eventually decline, resulting in higher prices at the grocery store or worse.