Honeybee gardens are an earth-friendly way to save on water usage, beautify your yard, and help honeybees. Who wouldn’t rather look at beautiful flowers in the spring, summer, and fall instead of a grass lawn that needs to be cut every week?
There are many things to consider when planning your honeybee garden, such as what plants to use, what type of water source to provide, and what location on your property is best. Along with these questions about what to do, gardeners should consider what not to do in a garden designed to attract honeybees. Primarily this comes down to two things: pesticides and hybridized plants.
Avoid pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides – even those labeled as organic
It seems like common sense that pesticides and insecticides should not be sprayed on plants that are designed to attract insects, primarily honeybees. Herbicides can be detrimental to honeybees too, so for a honeybee garden it is best to stay away from all commercial chemicals. Also, don’t be fooled by pesticides that are labeled as “organic.” These are not safer than regular pesticides, and they might even be worse. These pesticides are able to call themselves organic because, while they still use chemicals, they use chemicals that occur naturally. The problem is, these chemicals are not regulated, so there is really no way to know if they are better for the garden or for bees. In a honeybee garden, it is best to stay away from chemicals all together.
When purchasing plants to place in a honeybee garden, be sure to check for a different type of pesticide that plants are often treated with while they are at the greenhouse. This type of pesticide, called neonicotinoid, has been linked to Colony Collapse Disorder, and can be detrimental for the entire season.
Say no to hybridized plants
It is also good to make sure you do not choose hybridized plants. While hybrids are not detrimental to honeybees like neonicotinoids and other pesticides are, they are not beneficial either. Hybrids are bred in such a way that they produce very little nectar or pollen, so they would be useless in a garden intended to provide honeybees with food.
Some bee-friendly ways to keep down pests are to introduce beneficial insects such as ladybugs, spiders, and praying mantises, which are higher on the food-chain than harmful insects, and to handpick any pests that stick around. Simply use your fingers or wear some gloves and pick off the insects, dropping them into a bucket of soapy water. When you create a garden for bees, allow nature to claim the garden for its own.
Thinking and planning about what you should do in your honeybee garden can be a lot of fun, but it is important to keep these no-nos in mind, as well. Your local honeybees will thank you!