|An often overlooked factor that might be affecting your crop production is the absence of bees and other pollinators. Usually if someone is reporting poor production from their garden, they also report an absence of bees. Bees are vital. Without them, fruit and vegetable production will be very limited. A way to address this is to provide bees with a reason to visit your garden. Bees are looking for nectar and pollen. The plants that are often purchased today are hybridized. This is done to make plants more disease resistant and to alter flower color and size. The problem is that frequently when a plant has been hybridized the production of nectar and pollen are reduced and often leaves the plant sterile. At this point, the plant is useless to bees and other pollinators, such as butterflies. Temperature, humidity and soil moisture can also impact the production of nectar.|
A simple way to address this problem is to plant with the idea of attracting bees and other pollinators to your garden. To attract pollinators, you want to plant different plants that will bloom at different times throughout your growing season. Seek out indigenous plants, such as aster, blackeyed susans, and purple coneflower to attract native bees. Many garden plants are good sources of nectar or pollen. It is good to seek out older, heirloom varieties. Perennials, such as strawberries (yes, they are perennials and will be more prolific every year), and herbs, such as bee balm, boneset, basil, rosemary, and engish lavender attract pollinators.
Here are other tips that will increase your bee and butterfly visits:
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- Don't use pesticides. When you use pesticides, you kill beneficial bugs as well as pests. Seek out nontoxic pest solutions.
- Plant flowers of different colors and shapes. Bees have different sizes and tongue lengths so they feed on different flowers. Different flowers will increase the range of bees that you will attract. The colors blue, purple, violet, white, and yellow are particularly attractive to bees.
- Grow plants that flower at different times.
- Grow native plants. Research shows that bees are four times more attracted to native plants than exotic varieties.
- Plant where bees visit, such as sunny spots and places sheltered from strong winds.