Let Your Bees Do the Gardening

Work in tandem with native bees for a bountiful and beautiful garden.

| Fall 2019

marigold-bee
Photo by Getty Images/undefined undefined

If you’ve never equated those big, juicy, homegrown tomatoes — or lack thereof — with bees, it’s time to grab some wood (literally). From alkali bees to shaggy fuzzy-foot bees, you’ll harvest bigger fruits and vegetables, as well as higher yields, if you have enough of these pollinating bees visiting your garden. By planting insect-pollinated plants and creating bee habitat, your garden bounty will ripen faster and taste better. I bet you’re thinking gardening is sounding a whole lot easier right about now.

Cornell University researchers have found that bee-assisted pollination of strawberries can increase fruit size up to 40 percent. Other crops that depend upon native bees for pollination include tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, pumpkins, squash, and melons, as well as most berries and fruit trees. Heavy reliance on pesticides, loss of habitat, and monoculture crop systems have decimated pollinator populations.

“Monoculture makes it impossible for any bee, native or otherwise, to keep year­-round populations sufficient for pollination,” says David Green, who maintains the native bee website Pollinator. “A modern orchard has such a flush of bloom in spring that the pollination task is overwhelming. The rest of the year, it’s starvation or even a toxic environment.”



bee-black-currant
Fruits and vegetables depend on native bees for pollination, which results in better yields.
Photo by Getty Images/magdasmith

Besides avoiding pesticides, you can support native bee populations by protecting natural areas on your property; leaving field and road borders unmowed to provide habitat for ground-nesting bees; and planting or preserving stands of native flowering plants (that the bees use for food) in pastures and hedgerows. A diverse selection of flowering plants and food crops ensures that pollinators have a steady supply of nectar and pollen throughout the growing season.

Teagin
8/29/2019 2:07:09 PM

great article! https://www.motherearthliving.com







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