Every gardener must have a certain appreciation for pollinators like bees, even if the relationship is sometimes an uneasy one. Bees in particular play a pivotal role in propagating and spurring the development of many fruits and vegetables. But if you live in an area with a reduced bee population, or if your garden is not attractive to bees, your plants may end up neglected by pollinators and fail to reach their full production potential. Follow these four tips to bring bees back to your garden through the use of simple wildflowers.
Choosing the Right Species for Your Area
Whenever possible, choose a mix of wildflower seeds that most accurately represents the native flora of your area. It doesn't need to be a perfect match, but your local bees will be especially adept at recognizing and tracking down native species, and they may show a preference for plants they are familiar with. As a general rule, however, any wildflower seed packets with a mix of aromatic or pollinator-attracting flowers will bring in bees, but choosing native plants will also reduce the risk of an invasive species escaping the garden and taking root elsewhere.
Creating a Small Natural Ecosystem
If you have the space, consider turning a small portion of your yard into a natural meadow rather than lawn grass. Although it will not be quite as tidy or manageable as basic grass, this section can be an invaluable resource for native plants and animals, and it may become a favored spot for pollinators in the spring and summer. Otherwise, choose an area that is difficult to access or otherwise unsuitable for gardening, such as a shady spot under a tree. Wildflowers are hardy and need less special care than most fruits and vegetables, making them ideal to fill in difficult areas of your garden.
Picking Plants That Produce the Most Pollen
Not all flowers are created equal, from the perspective of a bee or another pollinator. Some species, for example, are not pollinated by animals at all, releasing their pollen to the wind instead. Other flowers have been bred to have double rows of petals surrounding their interior, which improves their appearance but can impact the ability of bees to harvest nectar and pollen. Pick wildflowers that have a single ring of petals, bright colors and a strong scent to draw the most bees to your garden.
Attracting More Than Just Bees
Bees are the most famous type of pollinators, but they are not the only ones. Flies, butterflies and hummingbirds are all prolific pollinators as well, and they can be beneficial for plants that bees might otherwise ignore. Flies, for example, are drawn to plants that have strong odors or resemble meat, such as red trillium. Butterflies and hummingbirds, on the other hand, are specially adapted to use their long tongues to reach nectar in long, horn-shaped flowers that bees cannot access. As you decide which wild visitors you want to attract to your garden, plant many different wildflower species of all shapes and sizes to ensure that each will find the food they like best.