A Place for Pollinators
I always enjoy watching the bees that visit the flowers I planted in my garden; I feel good about giving them a place to do their thing. Maybe it's because I know that the population of honeybees has declined so much in recent years (by as much as 50 percent), and pollinators in general are having a hard time because of pesticide use and habitat loss. I think I'm especially attuned the habitat factor because I live in a city. When I'm in the country, I expect to see bees, butterflies, and other pollinators such as hummingbirds. But to see pollinators in an urban place -- and to take the time to really look at them up close -- is something more rare and special.
Takoma Gardener recently posted a photo of a bee house -- basically a birdhouse-like box with smaller holes -- which can be set out to provide a protected nesting place for bees. She also mentioned some interesting details about bees, including the fact that beekeeping is banned in Washington, D.C., which I had never heard before. (And I never really thought about it, either.) I wonder why it's banned. Not that I'm thinking of taking up beekeeping or anything, but I just wonder what could be so bad that makes it illegal.
Anyway... what I would like to do is find a few more bee-friendly plants to add to my garden next year. Bee Balm is one that's been on my wish list for awhile; my mom offered to give me some from her garden the next time I see her.
For other ideas, I found a great guide to urban bee gardens, by UC Berkeley. For anyone who really wants to get into the specifics of which plants attract particular bees, they have a very detailed guide on beneficial, bee-attracting plants for the spring and summer seasons.
For now, the bees seem to be very happy with my coreopsis flowers. They also enjoyed my larkspurs, lamb's ears, and bachelor buttons. And later this summer, they'll have a feast with the basil flowers. It's always a dilemma for me when it comes time for deadheading the basil; they love the flowers so much, so I always have to leave some for the bees.
[Read more about saving pollinators and attracting pollinators to the garden.]