Bees In Your Garden
When I say those words some of you get the image of the sweet little creatures gently buzzing around the flowers and taking the pollen back to make that wonderful honey. Others are struck with utter terror. But what about bees in your garden? Are they important or not? Can we do without them? Aren’t there other insects that do the same job? I’ve had an interesting gardening season which has answered that question for me and I’ll share what I have learned.
What Does A Bee Do
First and foremost a Bee’s purpose in life is to make baby bees. Then they have to go out and get nectar which they use to make into honey to feed those baby bees. They get that nectar by visiting flowers, landing on them, sticking their proboscis down into the flower, sucking in the single drop that is in most flowers and moving on to the next flower and doing the same thing. They do this over and over until they are full then they take the nectar back to the hive and deposit it. Then they do it all again. When they are collecting the nectar they get that messy old pollen all over their legs and carry it to the next flower they visit. This deposits the pollen onto the next flower. The pollen gets deposited on the stigma of the next flower is kind of like impregnating it. If it doesn’t get that pollen carried to it, that flower will not produce a fruit.
Are Bees The Only Way A Flower Can Get Pollinated?
No, it’s not. Other insects pollinate too. And the wind and gravity will spread some pollen. But the bees are the best pollinators and without bees, most plants that have fruit will not produce as well. Take the strawberry for example. They are primarily pollinated by wind and gravity. However, Cornell University found that if you have bees in the vicinity the strawberries will be 40% bigger. That is quite a difference!
Why Am I Interested In Bees?
This year the rancher down the road moved his bees out of the area. I had no idea what a difference it would make. The lettuce and the Swiss chard grew wonderfully because they don’t need pollination to grow leaves. But the tomatoes and peppers did not do nearly as well this year as in years past. Then when the Barbados cherries blossomed, it was covered with blooms, but hardly a bee showed up. And I have gotten very few fruits. The same is true with my muscadine grape. This is just not acceptable. Why go through all that work. All the planning and building the soil, starting the seeds, weeding and watering and not get any (or at least not much) fruit!
How I’m Going To Get Bees In My Garden
The idea of giving up on my garden is not an option. I’m afraid it’s in my blood. So I sought out a beginners beekeeping class. I’m going to learn how to raise my own bees. I started by calling my local extension agency, and there was a class starting next week. I’m all signed up! It’s a 4-week class (4 long Saturdays in a row). It’s just one more thing on my already overflowing plate. So if the posts are a bit spotty for the next couple of weeks, please forgive me. When I’m finished I’ll share the wonders and adventures of beekeeping with you.
Related>> Plant Flowers That Attract Bees.
Do you want to keep bees too?
If you want to keep bees in your garden too contact your county’s cooperative extension service office. If they are not having a class in your area they should be able to put you in touch with a local bee association that can tell you where to find one. If you would like to learn more about beekeeping on your own, check out these excellent books on beekeeping. Then we can go on this wild bee adventure together.
Have a Ducky and Bee-utiful Day!