I'm completely in love with bees right now. As I've learned more about how important honeybees are for pollinating food crops, and how hard the bees work in their hives, each with their own job, I've been fantasizing about tending to a backyard beehive of my own. But my husband reminds me that our neighbor is allergic to bees, so he probably wouldn't like living next to a beehive. Not to mention that I have more hobbies than I have time for already. So I've settled for planting as many bee-attracting plants in my garden as possible.
I was talking to a beekeeper who was selling honey at a local farmers market last week. We got to talking about the differences between locally sourced honey versus the name-brand honeys you find in the grocery store, which may actually come from honey produced in China! Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it is nice to support the local beekeepers, and the local economy. Plus, bees pollinate so many of my favorite foods grown here in Iowa -- melons, apples, cucumbers, for example.
The beekeeper gave me a brochure with a list of bee-friendly plants for the garden. I was glad to see that I already grow a lot of these in my backyard. Here's the list, if you want to attract more pollinators in your garden:
Annuals - Asters, calliposis, clover, marigolds, poppies, sunflowers, zinnias (my favorite!).
Perennials - Buttercups, clematis, cosmos, crocuses, dahlias, echinacea, English ivy, foxglove, geraniums, globe thistle, hollyhocks, hyacinth, rock crees, roses, sedum, snowdrops, quills, pansy, yellow hyssop.
Fruits and vegetables - Blackberries, cantaloupe, cucumbers, gourds, fruit trees, peppers, pumpkins, raspberries, squash, strawberries, watermelons, wild garlic.
Shrubs - Blueberry, butterfly bush, button bush, honey suckle, indigo, privet.
Trees - Alder, American holly, basswood, black gum, black locust, buckeyes, catalpa, eastern redbud, hawthorns, hazels, linden, magnolia, maples, mountain ash, poplar, sycamore, willows.
Herbs - Bee balm, borage, catnip, cilantro, fennel, lavender, mints, rosemary, sage, thyme.
Now whenever I buy a new perennial, I look on the tag to see if it is pollinator friendly. And it's really made a difference. This summer, I've seen butterflies, bees and hummingbirds when I step out my back door.
I've also seen these little guys -- Asian beetles -- which I'm not to happy about, because I know they can really do some damage on a garden. So far, I've only seen a couple. I'm hoping I don't have many more next year.
So do you grown any bee-friendly plants on this list? Have you had trouble with Asian beetles this year? This is the first year I've seen them in my garden. I'm hoping it's just a fluke because of the drought. We've only had 1.25 inches of rain since mid-June! I can't believe my garden is still hanging in there, but the heat this week is going to shut some plants down, I think.