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Attracting Bees

06/18/10 1:04PM By Charlie Nardozzi
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AP Photo/Ron Edmonds

I'm Charlie Nardozzi and this is the Vermont Garden Journal.  You can design flower gardens to attract, butterflies, hummingbirds, and even bats, but what about the bees? Honey bees, bumblebees and native bees are essential to our food supply. It's estimated 1/3rd of every bite of food we take can be attributed to bees. But bees have been having a rough time of late with mites and diseases destroying their hives. So let's help bees out by growing some plants just for them.

In a flower, bees are looking for pollen and nectar. Choose heirloom varieties naturally high in both and avoid hybrids that have been bred for color, but lack the food bees need. Grow flowers in patches, instead of individually. They're easier for bees to find. Honey bees can't see the color red, so emphasize blue, white, violet, and yellow colored flowers. Grow a mix of flower sizes and shapes; flat flowers such as echinacea, tubular flowers like bee balm, and large flowers such as hollyhocks for fat bumblebees. You can also provide shelter by planting evergreens and leaving old snag trees in your yard. Just don't spray any pesticides that can harm bees.

For this week's tip, are you looking for a tough 15 to 20 foot tall flowering tree for your yard? Try the tree lilac. It's blooming now across our region. This upright tree has puffy, ivory-colored flowers, few pests, and grows in part sun on poor, infertile clay soil.

Next week on the Vermont Garden Journal, I'll be talking about cherries. For now, I'll be seeing you in the garden!


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