RPG IS TEMPORARILY CLOSED IN SUPPORT OF EFFORTS TO SLOW THE SPREAD OF COVID-19
Rather than focusing on a single plant, this month's feature highlights plants and shrubs that provide nectar-rich habitats for bees.
"As sweet as honey" and "as busy as a bee" are phrases known and used by many. Unfortunately, scientists continue to document declining bee populations. According to the FDA, about one-third of all food eaten by Americans (apples, melons, cranberries, pumpkins, broccoli, etc.) comes from produce pollinated by honey bees. Crops like blueberries and cherries are 90% dependent on bees for fruition while almond crops are 100% dependent on these tiny, hard working pollinators.
Bee Gardens: one way to help endangered bees is to plant a bee-friendly garden. Bee gardens can be cultivated almost anywhere: a space as small as a windowsill can serve as one. To start, simply plant flowers that attract bees--lavender, bee balm, pansies, marigolds, daises, peony, milkweed, and other native wildflowers.
Avoid flowers and plants sold at big-box retailers; they are often contaminated with pesticides implicated in the wide-scale death of beehives. Instead, grow plants from untreated seeds in organic potting soil, or purchase organic plant starts. Use 'single' flower tops (e.g., daisies and marigolds) rather than 'double' flower tops (e.g., double impatiens).
Do not use insecticides and pesticides on plants; these kill bees.
Bee gardens are not the total solution to the problem of disappearing bees. However, they help provide food and habitat for these endangered pollinators that are so essential in producing the food that the world needs for survival.