Why You Should Build a Bee-Friendly Garden in Your Own Backyard
If there’s one single activity you can do at home that both improves the life of you and your family while simultaneously aiding one of the most important creatures on the planet, it’s building a garden in your own backyard. Here’s why.
Why do I want to attract bees to my yard?
Here’s the thing about bees: much of our way of life depends on them. Sound crazy? Well, if part of your life involves eating a variety of foods, then bees are a big part of it.
Bees are the world’s most efficient pollinator, reigning supreme over birds, bats, butterflies, and other insects. More than 100 commonly-consumed fruits, vegetables, and nuts are either mostly-dependent or at least partially-dependent on natural pollination by bees to thrive. It’s thought that about one out of every three bites of food you eat every day is the product of bee pollination.
But why do I want them in my backyard? If not only for the selfish reason that bees are great pollinators, which help your own personal garden to flourish, bees are in danger across the world. In the last 60 or so years, the number of bee colonies have decreased by around 60%. Scientists believe that many factors could be playing a role in this decline, including some use of pesticides in agricultural practices, habitat loss, and decreased food supplies. By making your own home a haven for bees, you can do your part to protect this valuable creature.
Ok, so how do I make my backyard garden bee-friendly?
You can think about it like this: there are three major things you can provide bees that will help them thrive. The first is nectar and pollen, which come from flowers. You’ll want to plant flowers that bees love (they don’t love all plants equally). Bees love plants that are native to their particular area. They also love wildflowers and plants with easy access to the goodies inside. Specifically, you should plant things like purple coneflower, sunflowers, sage, goldenrod, lavender, zinnia, and basil. Here’s a good list of plants that attract bees.
The second way to help is through providing a good habitat. While honey bees build hives, you can help native nesting bees (some that burrow into the ground and some that use wood and debris for homes) by leaving part of your backyard garden floor clean and unplanted and part a bit unkempt. Lastly, bees need water like every other living thing, so putting a shallow, pebble-filled bee bath in your backyard garden will help.
Benefits beyond helping the bees
Even if bees weren’t a consideration, building a backyard garden for you and your family would be more than worth it, as the benefits of gardening are numerous. The beauty of a flower garden and the wonders of a vegetable bounty are obvious, but gardening is also great physical and mental exercise. Common gardening activities like raking, pulling weeds, moving rocks, and irrigating soil can burn as many calories as brisk walking or light jogging. The mental health benefits – peace of mind, stress busting qualities – have been well-documented.
If “save the planet” has ever been something you’ve been interested in, you should know that it really does begin in your own backyard. One of the best things you can do for your local ecosystem is to create a friendly habitat for your area bee population. If you help the bees, they will help you ten-fold. Anything you can do at home to protect even one local colony counts as doing your part to aid in this global issue.
Photo Credit: Pixabay.com
Article by: Christy Erickson