Pollination? Sure, we’ve all heard that it’s important, but how does it work again?
For those who need a refresher, when a bee lands on a flower and drinks its nectar, pollen from the flower’s male productive organ— the stamen—sticks to the little hairs on the bee’s legs. When the bee lands on a new flower, the pollen rubs off onto its female productive organ— the stigma— and fertilizes the plant. This fertilization allows the flower to develop fruit or rich blooms.
But with the insane decline of bee populations in recent years, it’s more important than ever to create safe spaces to protect nature’s #1 pollinator.
A pollinator garden is a garden that’s specially designed for pollinating insects— and is the perfect retreat for the humble bee, no matter what species!
This garden will feature flowers that are purposefully planted to provide delicious nectar for friendly bugs. In return for the tasty treat, local bees and butterflies will pollinate your flowers, so your plants can bear fruit or flower beautifully.
Sound like a win-win? It truly is. Here’s how you can create a pollination garden right in your own yard— and help protect your local bee population.
Plant More Flowers
Bees love sipping nectar from single floral plants. These are flowers that boast one ring of petals around their center. While bees will still visit double-flowers (like carnations or roses) and flowers with deep cavities (like hyacinths or foxglove), these varieties produce less nectar than single flower plants. Plus, some can make pollination more difficult, as the bee must work harder to get to the nectar and pollen.
In the end, single flowers are the best additions to your pollinator garden. We recommend planting lovely poppies, Mexican sunflowers or these other bee-friendly flowers.
Group the Blooms
Make it easy for bees and other pollinators to find your flowers by arranging them together, in a grouped garden. While dotting single plants in a row or creating a neat line can sure look sharp, pollinator gardens are typically planted in a circular pattern or contained plot so bees are encouraged to enjoy the “buffet” all at once.
Not sure how to make the right floral arrangement? Here’s a planting map for planning a charming hexagonal-shaped plot, inspired by honeycomb cells.
Choose Bee’s Favorite Colors
Bees can be a little picky when it comes to flowers, and while they’ll visit flora of mostly all varieties if need be, they have their favorite colors.
Bees tend to gravitate towards blue, purple and yellow flowers the most, so keep that in mind while going up and down the aisle at your local garden center.
Use Less Mulch
Although you might assume that all bees live in a hive, that’s not always the case. In fact, many bee species are actually solitary roamers. About 70% of those solo flyers like to nest in the ground, according to National Geographic, as this is a safe place for them to raise their baby bees.
Instead of filling all bare patches of dirt with mulch, leave a section bare for mama bees and their young to burrow.
Add a Bee Block/Hotel
Sometimes bees need places to rest while passing through— and what a better stop than a convenient “hotel.” Just like you can buy birdhouses for your yard, you too can add bee homes to your pollinator garden.
These bee retreats are usually made of wood or natural materials, with circular slots, creating private “rooms” for your yellow and black friends. Bees use them to hide from predators, escape from the hot sun and to raise their baby bees.
Check out this stylish bamboo beehive on Amazon, or choose your favorite wooden escape to hang in your yard.
Create a Bee Bath
Bees drink water, just like us! And they want fresh, clean H20, not the murky water found in a stagnant birdbath (which, frankly, birds don’t like either!).
Fill a small, shallow container with rocks or wood. This will create a little landing pad for the bees to rest on while they drink. Add fresh water to this bee pond daily, or every other day. If you forget, the shallow pan will evaporate and eventually fill with fresh rainwater.
Many pesticides are not bee-friendly, and can kill your striped friends. Be cautious of broadband sprays, which ward against all bugs— even friendly butterflies, ladybugs and bees.
Our GreenSphere division is proud to use BeeSafe organic lawn care products, to protect our winged neighbors without worry.
Protect Butterflies & Other Friendly Insects
While all of these are great ways to make your landscape bee-friendly, bees aren’t the only insects that enjoy pollinator gardens. Butterflies and moths also call them home, as well as beetles and ants.
Here are some tips from the US Department of Agriculture for gardening for pollinators to attract other pleasant visitors.
Do you know if your fertilizer is BeeSafe®? Download our Ultimate Guide to Fertilization to learn more about organic vs. chemical fertilizer to choose more environmentally-conscious lawn care products.