Birds and Bees...


| 2/22/2017 12:00:00 AM


Tags: Sherry Smith, barefoot and dirty, native wildflowers, pollinator gardens, bees, honey cookies,

February is quickly coming to a close. Spring is around the corner. I’m convinced the groundhog they used this year was defective, though, as we have only had 3 cold days all winter. We have spent the winter months in shorts with our windows open. The balmy weather has allowed us to enjoy more outside work time than usual this winter, so we have several projects underway. We are currently incubating 2 dozen duck eggs. My husband brought home a 330 gallon tank to expand our rainwater harvesting efforts. My husband built two beehives and ordered the bees to go in them to be delivered sometime next month. Our efforts at increased sustainability continue.

Now, bees are something we’ve been wanting to add for years. The pollination benefits alone are worth the effort. However, the prospect of fresh honey and beeswax from our own bees is nothing short of amazing. My husband has done his research and procured the necessary equipment, and now he waits for his bees. In the meantime, I am once again channeling my inner plant nerd to devise a way to finagle yet another new garden bed: a pollinator garden.

While my husband has been researching the bees, I have been researching the bee-friendly plants. Honestly, he had to have seen it coming. Anyway, I have learned many new and interesting facts about bees and their relationships with plants. For one, our native wildflowers are rich sources of nectar for foraging bees. I couldn’t have picked a project more near and dear to my heart. While earning my horticulture degree, my emphasis was in natural resource management and my research was on non-native invasives and their effects on local ecology. Needless to say, I’m all over the idea of dedicating a portion of our land to native plants.

We have located a good sunny location for the hives between the herb gardens and the vegetable gardens. We are building a good sturdy platform to put the hives on. Once we set that in the ground, we’ll clear a swath of ground all the way around it about 3 feet wide. There will be stepping stones leading to the front of the hives, and a shallow birdbath between them on the platform for water. The cleared ground will be planted with masses of native wildflowers.

Now, there are a good many herbs that are bee-friendly, and I will make sure to plant them all in the herb garden. You can never have too many herbs, I always say. Lavender, lemon balm, borage, sage, savory, rosemary, dill, thyme and basil are all attractive to bees. Of course, we have the vegetable garden and fruit trees, as well. However, the native wildflowers are something to which I am truly looking forward. I love wildflowers, particularly sunflowers which are my favorites.

Texas has so many beautiful wildflowers that it will be difficult to choose, and I’m already predicting that a three foot path may not be big enough by the time I’m through. However, it will make a good start. I also intend to plant my wildflowers with consideration for blooming times to make sure there is something blooming all year. So let’s begin with winter…




elderberry, echinacea, bee hive

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