Planting for Honey Bees

Honey Bee

For the last several years, honey bee populations in North America have been declining rapidly. This decline is attributed to anything from “we have no idea” to drought, the use of neonicotinoids (pesticide), reduced habitat, and the lack of good nutrition. Whatever the case may be, the honey bee population is declining, and the impact of this decline is less fruits and vegetables for our farmers to grow, harvest, and sell.

Last summer, my family planted a tomato plant in one of those topsy-turvy upside-down planters, and though the plant grew to be large and green and healthy, it produced fewer than 10 tomatoes. After a summer of carefully tending to this plant and waiting impatiently for some delicious tomatoes to appear, we started to realize that we rarely saw any bees in our yard or near this plant. We also had no other flowering plants in our yard.  We failed to attract the honey bees that our plant needed to be pollinated and to produce those delicious tomatoes we waited so impatiently for!

The average citizen can play a part in helping increase the honey bee population by planting the following flowers: aster, sunflowers, bee balm, salvia, mint, hyssop, bachelor’s buttons, poppies, thyme, and spider flowers. Also, using pesticides sparingly and avoiding some types of pesticides altogether, such as neonicotinoids, can help protect honey bees.

My all-time favorite flower is the sunflower, and I am eager to grow some sunflowers to hopefully attract and nurture honey bees.  Do you grow honey-bee-friendly plants? If so, do you see honey bees visiting those plants?
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