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The Benefits of Bees
by Guest Blogger:
If you’re an active gardener who isn’t too fond of bees, then it’s time to think again. Bees are one of the most important factors in determining your garden’s health, and can benefit your garden and the overall environment in many ways.
For one, bees are responsible for most of the fresh food we eat everyday. According to the NAPCC, bees pollinate 80 percent of the flowering plants and 75 percent of the fruits, nuts, and vegetables grown in the U.S.! Unfortunately, the bee population has been steadily declining due to a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder. Sadly, what most fail to understand is that without bees, our harvests would also decline substantially. No bees means no natural food! While this one of the large scale benefits of bees, there are a number of advantages from incorporating bees into your garden
Bees can also make a huge difference to your garden output. Allowing for flowers and plants to bloom profusely, bees help increase garden yield by a significant amount. There is a common belief that bees are only attracted to “boring” or “usual” flowers. While bees do prefer native flowers, you might find that they are also interested in many of the same types of flowers that you are already growing.
Another, and a more obvious benefit of having bees is the delicious sticky substance they produce - honey! Fresh honey, straight from the comb is one of the most delicious items one could ever taste. Due to its anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties, honey has numerous health benefits. For example, honey and warm water is a common home remedy to cure a throat ache. Honey also has weight-loss properties, helps improve eyesight and settle nausea. For diabetics too, honey is a much safer alternative than sugar.
The Basics on Attracting Bees
There is a wide variety of guides that thoroughly detail the process of beekeeping. This here serves as a quick introduction on how to continuously attract bees and pollinators into your garden, even without formally engaging in the beekeeping process in case you aren’t ready to do so.
Food and Water
Like any other living organisms, bees need food and water. As stated above, bees prefer native plant species, and these serve as their main forms of nutrition. Nowadays, basic advice involves keeping some native plant species in your garden as these are the ones that local pollinators have evolved to rely upon. That being said, it is also necessary to provide different types of flowers, since different varieties bloom at different times through the year. It’s a common misconception that bees will chew up prized fauna - on the contrary, they will leave behind a trail of pollination that doesn’t cause any harm, allowing you to grow any special flowers of your desire. Your wildlife garden will also attract other pollinators, like wasps, hummingbirds and butterflies. You will need to stop using chemical pesticides, and move to natural controls, so as to provide a safe haven for these pollinators.
One of the simplest ways to provide water for wild bees is through a birdbath. A flat stone placed in the middle of the birdbath makes for both, a great watering hole and resting pad. If you don’t have the space for a birdbath, a slow dripping outdoor faucet is a suitable alternative, though you’d have to be willing to leave it on so that the bees have a continuous water supply.
Shelter and Protection
Depending on the intensity of your beekeeping activities, the shelter for your bees can range from very simple to elaborate. Bees are able to nest in many different sorts of places, from empty patches of lawn to piles of dead logs. If you have an afternoon and some wood to spare, consider building a “bee bungalow”. These are simply stacked pieces of wood with small holes drilled into them, and they provide a safe haven for bees away from insecticides and pesticides that others in your area may use.
Bees, their combs and their habitat are often preyed by larger predators. In case you have frequent predator visits, you might consider investing in animal appropriate electrified netting to keep potential threats way, without causing them any harm. This is especially useful if you have wildlife visiting your garden.
Keeping bees may seem like a lot of effort initially - but the end result is definitely worth it.
Not only are they economically viable to introduce into your garden; they also are integral to maintaining our fragile ecosystem.
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