A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be on the receiving end of two beehives (sans bees at this point). My interest in bees and beekeeping has grown over the past couple of years, and I am in the process of researching backyard beekeeping and weighing the pros and cons of keeping bees in our own suburban backyard next year.
One part of my research into how to take care of bees includes how to make our yard more bee and pollinator friendly. At this point, our yard is heavy on the juniper bushes, and light on the flowers. I want to know how to take care of and feed bees from our own yard, and how to improve our yard to make it a haven for little critters.
So how can we go about making our yards more bee and pollinator friendly?
First things first, Ken and I have stopped using chemical weed killers and have been using vinegar and old fashioned weed-pulling to control our weeds. The results so far? The weeds are out of control. However, Ken and I can feel good that our yard is safer for bees, birds, little critters, and our dogs. And as we nail down our weed control process, hopefully we can get the ugly plants in check.
We also provide a water source for bees and butterflies in our backyard by making sure our bird bath has plenty of fresh water. Bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds need water and they also need a way to escape from the water if they get wet, so we added a couple of larger rocks to the bird bath to make sure animals that get stuck in the water have a way to get out.
Up next is figuring out what plants we may need to change out to better support bees, and strategically adding those plants to our yard.
According to the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History, Colorado has the fifth highest diversity of bees in the US, with more than 900 native species. And not surprisingly, these native bees are particularly attracted to native plants.
At our house, we already have apple, cherry, and plum trees, and those are good for pollinators. But we also have a lot of grass, junipers, and pine trees which aren’t ideal for bees and butterflies.
According to Pollinator.org, we should strive to choose a variety of plants that will provide nectar and pollen throughout the growing season from early spring to late fall.
In the Denver Post article, How to Lure the Bees, Butterflies, and and Other Pollinators to your Colorado Garden, Sonya Anderson from Denver Botanic Gardens has the following suggestions for plants that do well in Colorado that are good for pollinators.
For spring-time, crocus, tulips, and columbines are good for hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies.
In the summer, bee balm, black- eyed Susans, and Russian sage are winners.
And Asters and Goldenrod thrive in the fall.
Now that we have some ideas for plants and flowers to add to our yard to support pollinators, it is time to get planting!
If you are interested in learning more about supporting pollinators in Colorado, check out these resources for more info:
Until next time!
Allison and Ken