The Buzz On Bees
Bees are busy making more than just Honey Nut Cheerios! It has been said that bees are responsible for one out of every three bites of food we consume. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, fiber and hay all require pollination. Plant seeds cannot be produced without the activity of bees. So keeping bees alive and active is important - critical, in fact - for producing crops and sustaining natural plant communities.
Bees spend most of their lives collecting pollen, which is a source of protein for them. When a bee lands on a flower, the hairs on the bee's body electrostatically attract pollen grains, and as the bee flies from flower to flower, it transfers pollen. Often individual bees focus on one kind of flower at a time, so more than likely pollen from one flower will be transferred to the same species of flower. This is known cross-pollination and is necessary for many plants to produce viable seeds.
Your gardens can play a significant role in assisting bees in their busy work. Think of location and groupings to make flying from flower to flower less challenging. Consider what source of food you can provide as well. Bees and other pollinators need the sweet nectar from flowers for energy - it is tough work supporting ecosystems all day! Overlapping bloom periods with different flowers not only is aesthetically pleasing for you, but also provides food sources and pollination opportunities throughout the growing season. Also, think native. Native plants attract native bees and with about 400 different species of native bees in our area, we have lots of locals to support! There are even theories that suggest consuming local honey produced by local bees helps build a tolerance to local allergens. It may be anecdotal advice, but I'd try anything to avoid sneezing! So while planning or adding to your gardens, keep our bees in mind - they have a mighty big task at hand.