Colony collapse disorder has been a problem affecting the US honeybee population for some time, new data show that there is a continuing downtrend. The suggested causes for these include a combination of factors such as pesticides, infections, habitat loss, climate change, malnutrition and change in beekeeping practices. Pesticides have been known to weaken bees, leaving them more susceptible to disease and parasites that otherwise would not affect them.
Humans have been continually replacing meadows with farms. Planting wildflowers during spring may help increase bee survival rate and mitigate the dwindling bee population. Bees are important not only because of their honey. They are also important to all sorts of food production such as apples, bananas, berries and more. This is because bees carry pollen from one flower to another. Pollen is what makes plants fertile. Without bees, food production would be significantly lower. Livestock also need food from crops which are pollinated by bees. Therefore, meat and dairy production are also affected.
The Power of Wildflowers
Gardens are sanctuaries for bees. Flowers attract not only bees but also all sorts of other insects such as butterflies and ladybugs. These pollinators improve crop yield and keep pest population such as aphids in control. Planting simple flowers allowing bees to get more food and collect more pollen. Single flowers such as daisies and marigolds have more nectar and allow for easier access of bees to pollen.
Finding What Works
Native insects have been known to favor native wildflowers. This makes sense as they have evolved closely with one another. Wildflowers are also relatively easy to maintain and are resistant to pests.
To find what flowers to plant consider your local climate and soil profile. Yarrows can thrive in sandy, drought-prone soil. While Primrose are more typically suited to clay-rich soils. You must research what wildflowers are accessible to you and are native to your region.
Some wildflowers need a lot of sunshine. Take this in consideration when choosing a spot for your wildflower garden. Consider whether the soil is wet or dry and if the flowers that you want can be planted in these conditions. Usually, well-drained soil works wonders for wildflowers.
You should look into planting pollen-rich flowers that offer a range of blooming periods and flower shape. Spring is typically the time for flowers to bloom but some flowers can be planted in summer and autumn. Cosmos, Echinacea and Hosta should be planted for summer seasons. Chrysanthemum, pansy and heather all bloom in the autumn. Witch hazel, snowdrops and daffodils can be planted during late winter. Mixing and matching your wildflowers with the season takes care of the bee’s needs all year long.
Different species of bees also have different preferences in flowers. This mostly depends on flower shape, so it is best to plant a diversify the wildflowers present in your garden.
If you care for bees but want a low effort way to plant wildflowers, self-seeders are best for you. Poppies and hollyhocks drop their seeds on the ground allowing them to regrow with little to no help from you. Once planted, these plants will bloom a number of times for you. To start, you can simply scatter their seeds and rake the area. You can also plant seedlings in pots and transplant them eventually to the patch of land you want them to be.
Keep It Natural
An additional advantage of wildflowers is that they can flourish in partly shaded areas. Allowing them to be easily integrated into areas of your garden. You can plant them in areas which may be difficult to grow other plants.
Wildflowers are more suited as opposed to hybrid plants, as they have very little pollen for bees. Any kind of chemicals are likely to harm your soil. They kill your soil’s organisms. Earthworms and other creatures help your plants grow and improve the soil quality. Pesticides should also be avoided, as they can be toxic not only for bees but also people who will visit your garden. Insects such as spiders and ladybugs can take care of the pests. Some pesticides contain neonicotinoids which are especially harmful to bees.
Starting a wildflower garden would not only be a fun project for you. Your garden can also be a source of sustenance for bees and other creatures. Bees greatly help in the production of our food. And so, we must do our simple part in helping them thrive.