One of my favorite lecture topics:
Beauty and the Bees – A different way of looking at garden design
Time was when we wanted to design gardens that were beautiful.
Planting trees, shrubs and perennials together to create a space that was aesthetically pleasing was the goal.
Now we know better.
Gardening just for our own pleasure is not only selfish, it’s dangerous.
Colony Collapse Disorder and the plight of pollinators have made us aware that we do not garden alone.
We need to be designing landscapes and gardens with a mindful eye to the environment around us.
Join garden designer and beekeeper Deborah Trickett, owner of The Captured Garden, as she shows you how with a few tweaks we can create spaces that are not only beautiful but beneficial to bees and other pollinators.
“Bee the Change – Plant for Pollinators” – Plant Something, MA
Protecting the Life That Sustains Us – Xerces Society
Bee School – Worcester County Beekeepers Association
Bee School – Norfolk County Beekeepers
Ten Interesting Facts About Bees – Massachusetts Master Gardeners
Many gardeners are all abuzz about saving our pollinators. As a beekeeper, I am thrilled; this is a good thing. Even the big box stores have labels on some perennials that trumpet the cause. Just make sure you check the tags to confirm the plants have not been treated with neonicotinoids, a pesticide that spells death to bees.
And while many of us now understand the importance of milkweed it’s only the beginning. Protecting pollinators, which include bees, moths, butterflies, and bats, means more than planting a few pretty perennials.According to entomologist, professor, and author Doug Tallamy, the top-ranked woody genus for pollinators is Oaks (Quercus), which support 534 species. The top-ranked herbaceous plant is Goldenrod (Solidago) which, in comparison, supports 114 species.
In other words, trees are very important to pollinator health; they provide most of the earliest food available in the spring.
Numbers don’t tell the whole story, however. Many butterflies, moths, and native bees require a specific plant for survival. The monarch and its connection with milkweed has been well-publicized. All this makes for a compelling argument that gardens with an eye to the future should encompass a diversity of native plant material.
For a list of native pollinator plants and the number of species they support, check out Bringing Nature Home.
“The hum of bees is the voice of the garden”
~ Elizabeth Lawrence
Think about that expression for a minute. Yes, it’s May. It’s an extremely busy time of year: end-of-school field trips, graduations, first communions, bridal showers, weddings, first vacations of the summer, etc. Sometimes it’s hard to catch a breath.
Now consider the phrase “busy as a bee”. From the minute they are born worker bees, ironically all female, have a job. They work together for the good of the colony. In the beginning they might work in the nursery, later they could work as house security, protecting the hive, or as undertakers, removing dead bees. Once they mature bees are promoted to field agents to forage and collect nectar and pollen to feed the colony. All this busyness is beneficial to you because honeybees and other pollinators are directly responsible for every third bite of food you take. Imagine what life would be like without apples, almonds, or avocados? And that’s only the A’s. And did you know it takes 154 trips out to forage just to make one teaspoon of honey? Talk about busy! There is never a glass of wine on the porch or a game of badminton on the front lawn.
You may have heard huge numbers of colonies have been dying lately. This decline has been termed Colony Collapse Disorder and while the definitive causes are still unknown there are steps we can take to help the bees. Plant flowers that are good forage sources for the bees like summersweet, coneflower, milkweed and sedum, to name a few. Limit or abstain from using pesticides which have been shown to be detrimental to bee health. The tastiest thing you can do is buy local honey.
Spring is a busy time of year but make sure to take some time to smell the flowers. And appreciate the honey bee that might be working in the center of them.