The Business of Bees

Considering planting a garden to help beautify your business front?  Try planting native wildflower or plant species that will draw in honey bees!  By planting varieties that are attractive to bees, you can help your garden thrive while benefiting the insect population in your region.  According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, since 2006 about one-third of the honey bee population in the US has disappeared due to what scientists today refer to as ‘colony collapse disorder.’   This startling loss of honey bees has been linked to numerous causes ranging from pesticides to parasites.  However, scientists have yet to narrow down the exact reason(s) causing honey bees to die.  The most helpful thing that we, as community members can do is to encourage the repopulation of honey bees is by carefully selecting garden varieties that are irresistible to these buzzy insects!

It is always important when gardening with wildflowers to choose native plant species rather than exotic species for several different reasons.  First, some exotic plants that have been blindly introduced to the US are now some of our country’s worst invasive plants.  Plants such as garlic mustard and multi-flora rose were brought to the US from Eurasia and now have caused detriment to many of PA’s natural areas.  Although it might seem like the battle against invasives is hopeless, the problem can easily be prevented, as well as avoided by simply choosing native species.  Second, native species are acclimated to your local region’s weather and soil conditions, which allows these plants to thrive more easily with little maintenance on your own behalf.  For example, perennial species, such as chicory and black-eye-susans will persist for several growing seasons, requiring very little gardening work.  Also, planting your seeds at different time periods or choosing plants that bloom during different seasons will attract a variety of pollinators, especially honey bees.  Last, native plants support local wildlife, such as birds, mammals, and insects.

So now the question is what species of wildflowers do bees find to be the most enticing?  Penn State’s Agriculture Department suggests common boneset, wrinkleleaf goldenrod, and New England aster to be the most attractive wildflowers for honey bees.  Other wildflower species such as joe-pye weed, ironweed, milkweed, purple coneflower, wild blue phlox, and Culver’s root are equally as appealing to honey bees.  It is important to remember that upon planting a native wildflower garden it may take up to 3 years for the landscape to fully develop, but realize the worth of the wait once the honey bees arrive to your garden!

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Filed under how-to, in Southwestern PA

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