When visiting a friend in her beautiful Atlanta home, I couldn’t take my eyes off the lawn. It was small but impressive. The grass was so thick and green, the perfect lawn, not a weed in sight, like a fresh manicure. I couldn’t help but chuckle at the thought of seeing our country landscape in the middle of this suburban block. I’m afraid we’d receive knocks on the door from lawn services offering to lend a hand.
It isn’t that we’re lazy. We mow our lawn often, to discourage snakes from hiding in the grass. We have a lawn philosophy, a strategy that we hope you’ll consider if you haven’t already.
Our lawn and meadows are comprised of a varying lot of botanicals. We did plant grass, but there are wildflowers and botanicals that spring up on the landscape: dandelions, wild violets, clover, plantain, chickweed, and water-mint along the creek’s edge. Our lawn strategy includes nourishing the animal kingdom. I love the look and fragrance of fresh cut grass, but I also understand that the bees we tend are in need of natural sources of pollen, nectar, and propolis, especially in the dawn of spring. Bees collect nectar and pollen from plants to feed their colonies, which is especially vital during this time of hive formation and brood production.
Dandelions are among the first wild botanicals that appear on the landscape in spring. So, instead of reaching for a container of weed killer, leave the wildflowers in place to provide food for the bees and their young. Colony Collapse Disorder affects us all. Personally, we lost 5 hives of bees over the winter. Looking to replace the bees that we lost, we were unable to purchase more from our usual source, because he can’t meet the current demand from other beekeepers desiring to replace bees they lost this winter.
You don’t have to be a bee-keeper to do your part to save the bee population from further demise. Instead of spreading or spraying your grass and plants with pesticides, consider planting a bee friendly garden. Bradford pear trees may offer a showy display of spring blooms, but they are not a food source for the bees.
Plant any of these beneficial trees or plants to provide sources of nectar and pollen for honey bees.
Trees for Bees:
- Black locust
- Tulip poplar
- Fruit-bearing trees such as apples, peaches, and almonds, etc.
Plants for Your Bee-Friendly Garden:
- Bee balm
- Butterfly bush
- Purple coneflower
- Heritage roses
- St. John’s Wort
Wild botanicals include
Don’t Forget: Bees Need Water!
Sources of clean water are as important as food to the survival of bees and their colonies. The honey bees we tend to collect water from the statue in our koi pond and along the shallow, still edges of the natural, flowing spring. To provide clean water for bees in your vicinity, keep fresh water in a birdbath or place a water feature in your yard. Bees enjoy a drink of water on a hot day and also use water in the production of honey and larvae food.
Deborah Tukua is a natural living, healthy lifestyle writer and author of 7 non-fiction books, including Pearls of Garden Wisdom: Time-Saving Tips and Techniques from a Country Home, Pearls of Country Wisdom: Hints from a Small Town on Keeping Garden and Home, and Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. Tukua has been a writer for the Farmers' Almanac since 2004.