by David Moore
Manager of Technical Services and Board Certified Entomologist
with contributions by Eric Smith, PhD, BCE
I was recently at the Bayer CropScience North American Bee Care Center where I received a training session on the current health of honey bee, colony collapse disorder, and ways we can help them move in the right direction. If you do not know, European honey bee populations have been impacted greatly over the past several years, with little progress. There has been a lot of speculation as to the reason for this reduction, but there has been no conclusive scientific research showing the cause(s) for the population crash.
Moving in the fall months, there is little you can do to help the current population. However, you can help set the bees up for success by planting seeds that will grow into bee-attracting flowers that will help support the health of honey bees and other pollinators.
It is ideal to plant native plants, but the following 15 plants can be grown in most areas of the US that can provide the pollinators essential habitat:
- Lamb’s ear
- Bells or Phacelia
- Black-eyed Susan
Is there anything we can do now?
We can plant these seeds in the near future on a sunny day after the last frost. Make sure you keep the seeds moist. Large groupings of flowers are more attractive than single plants. Choose plants that are adapted to the sun and soil conditions in your local area.
Bees are especially attracted to flowers in the shades of blue, purple, white and yellow. Try to plant combinations of flowers that will bloom from early spring to fall. This will provide the pollinators with a consistent food source throughout their active season. Try not to plant hybrids since they are bred to have less fragrance, nectar, or pollen.
If you plant in the spring, make sure you are watering multiple times a day during warm weather. If the plants are plotted, they will need to be water more often. If you plant seeds and follow the proper watering, you should see the plants germinate within 2-3 weeks.