What We Really Need to Fear About Bees

Vanessa cardui - Painted lady butterfly and Bumble bee on an Echinacea flower
Vanessa cardui – Painted lady butterfly and Bumble bee on an Echinacea flower

What we really need to fear about bees isn’t the sting. Gardeners know that most bees are gentle creatures, and if not bothered, don’t tend to sting. The real fear is the loss of our bees … our essential pollinators. A few years ago, this story was big news, but while the media has moved on to other trendy topics, bee colony collapse continues and is getting worse. A new EPA study shows that pesticides are a huge part of the problem, and this year, the extremely cold winter we had has made the situation dire.
What can we do to help the bees? In a recent issue of Plant Savvy, Monrovia offered these tips: First, eliminate or reduce use of pesticides. Then plant a garden with nectar-rich food that will bloom from spring through summer. As a bonus, you’ll be attracting butterflies – also important pollinators that are dwindling in numbers. Provide a shallow water source and a flat rock for butterflies to sun their wings. Leave a small patch of bare ground where bees can establish their underground nests. If you find a hive where you don’t want it, find someone who will relocate it at no charge. (Search online for “bee rescue” and your city.) Or attract mason bees, which don’t form hives. They live in holes, so you can purchase a cute mason bee house, or simply drill holes in a block of wood.

Bees don’t see the red end of the color spectrum, so good flower colors for bees and butterflies are white, yellow, blue, pink and purple. For spring blooming, plant Wild Lilac, Western and Eastern Redbud, Flowering Quince, Cranesbill, Lavender, Catmint ,Rhododendron, Rose and Salvia.

To feed our winged friends all summer, plant Yarrow, Hyssop, Anemone, New York Aster, Bluebeard, Tickseed, Foxglove, Coneflower, Potentilla, Bee Balm, Russian Sage, Black Eyed Susan, Pincushion Flower, Stonecrop, Spirea and Verbena. Butterflies especially will flock to the aptly named Butterfly Bush, and Monarchs are attracted to Milkweed.

The Audubon Society has some great tips to learn how to reduce use of chemical pesticides. Our bees, birds and butterflies will thank you.

Monrovia is one of the world’s largest producers of container-grown plants, with more than 2,300 different varieties. Since it was founded in 1926 by Harry E. Rosedale, the company has introduced hundreds of patented plants, more than 220 of which are Monrovia exclusives.
Monrovia plants are shipped to independent garden centers nationwide from its nurseries in Visalia and Venice Hills, Calif.; Dayton, Ore.; LaGrange, N.C.; and Cairo, Ga. Throughout its history, Monrovia has pioneered many new technologies and new plant introductions. It remains a family-owned entity. To find the nearest garden center that carries Monrovia plants, visit http://www.monrovia.com. And now, Monrovia Organics fertilizers and soil are available for the home gardener.

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