What Are Honeybee Gardens and Why Should You Plant One?

What is a Honeybee Garden?

Bees are one of nature’s most important helpers to ensure that blooms blossom into fruit and our ecosystem remains healthy.  The bee population has been declining; to keep our earth and environment healthy, we must think of the bee as a soon-to-be-extinct insect that will require our intervention to reverse the trend.  To that end, a honeybee garden is an attractive array of flowering plants which aid in repopulating the bee population by providing them renewed environments of flower pollen necessary to keep their colonies growing and alive.

Are Bees Endangered?

The short answer is: yes.  The scientific term for the decline of the bee population is colony collapse disorder, and it’s quite serious to the earth’s honeybee population.  Recent studies show that viruses are to blame as well as man-made pollutants, such as diesel exhaust. Should the decline continue, we’d see an end to the necessary work of cross-pollinating that bees do in order for fruited plants and trees to produce and for flowers to regenerate.   It’s important that we act to save them, since our own nutrition and health depend by the thankless bee. 

The Importance of Honeybee Gardens

We have evidence as far back as Ancient Egypt that honeybee gardens were an important part of civilization.  Think of a honeybee garden as sort of a gas station for a car.  If you drove an older car from San Francisco to Los Angeles, you’d need to stop at least once for gas.  A honeybee garden does in fact the same for the bee; they require the pollen from flowers in order to keep their colonies alive and thriving.  Without gas stations, a gas-fueled car wouldn’t be able to work.  Because of modern urban development, the natural habitat of the honeybee has been changed into cement sidewalks and mortar buildings with very few flowers for them to gather nectar. 

Developing a Honeybee Garden Great Project to do with Children

Do you have your nephews over for the weekend?  Or perhaps are you thinking of a way to teach your kids about being planet-friendly in a fun and cooperative project?  Think of planting a honeybee garden with young children – even if it’s as small as beginning with a few flowering seeds and some fresh soil in an old ceramic coffee cup.  They can help nurture the plants, watch the honeybees come and be a part of reversing the honeybee decline.  A bigger project though even more fun is to do it using hollyhocks, since it’s one of the favorite flowers to the honeybee.

Tips to Create a Bee-Friendly Garden

The old adage in real estate of “location, location, location” is changed to “variety, variety, variety” to the honeybee.  Plant a lot of varying flowers – the more varieties, the better.  New studies show that the best method of producing a honeybee garden is to use a diverse mix of flowering plants, especially in urban areas.  While some studies show that insecticides don’t hurt the honeybee, it’s important to note that the synthesized ingredients in them prevent the honeybee from finding your garden.  A call to your local florist will be able to help you shed light on which flowers in your area are helpful in building your own honeybee garden.  Bees are generally more attracted to flowering plants which bloom in secondary and tertiary colors: think purple, orange, and other hues over red, yellow and blue.  Bees love flowers and gardens with contrasting textures, so using garden thistle or non-flowering succulents will heighten their awareness.  Just make sure you check with your local ordinances as some cities and neighborhoods have now put in regulations on the size of gardens you are allowed to have. 

Make a Bee Bath!

Similar to a bird bath, bees need a little water to stimulate the bees to come.  A flat, small plate works well for a smaller garden; larger gardens require more.  This is another fun project to do with kids when making your honeybee garden.

Have Fun

Helping out our environment by building up a honeybee garden is also a great way to relax or to have fun.  Clubs have formed all over the US, Ireland, South Africa, Australia and Canada where honeybee gardens can even lead you to finding a new friend, or even a new date!  Sharing your garden’s progress on social media is also a great way to get others engaged, to let them know “why and how,” and to invite them to create a honeybee garden of their own.