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  • Skink Wars and More on These Sleek Lizards March 28, 2015
    I was on the patio late one afternoon and the trashcan was rocking.  I glanced over since you never know what creature of nature will be visiting my place.  I figured that maybe a black racer or water snake had slithered underneath the wheels setting the rocking in motion. Then I heard thrashing and a […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see al […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Spring Garden Care March 26, 2015
      Spring Garden Care People who care about attracting wildlife to their gardens usually learn over time about best practices for fall cleanup and especially the fact that it’s really beneficial for our birds if we refrain from relentlessly cutting perennials to the ground before winter. But what then happens in the spring for garden care?   Here in […] We lo […]
    Jesse Elwert
  • Downy Woodpeckers March 24, 2015
    A welcome visitor to my garden, throughout the entire year: the Downy Woodpecker, Picoides pubescens. They are small woodpeckers. In fact, they are the smallest woodpecker native to North America. The Downy is generally about 6 3/4 inches long. The picture, above, is a female. She is dressed entirely in black and white, while the […] We love hearing from you […]
    Brenda Clements Jones
  • Spring has sprung at Cincinnati Nature Center March 23, 2015
    My family spent the day hiking the trails at the Cincinnati Nature Center in Milford, Ohio this past Saturday.  It was a beautiful, perfect day to get some fresh air and snap photos of all the new life popping up in the woods and at the ponds. The amphibians have already been busy laying masses […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the b […]
    Judy Burris
  • Bluebird Babies Shepherd in Spring 2015 March 20, 2015
    Big doings at my Central Florida home today.  First day of spring and what could be more rewarding than having the first brood of Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) hatch?  NOTHING! I saw mom and dad doing a bit of back and fourth to the nest box early this morning. Such activity is a sure sign […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the be […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Springtime Means Native Plant Garden Tours: Put on Your Walking Shoes March 19, 2015
    When spring comes, I welcome the chance to put on my walking shoes and head out to native plant garden tours.  Garden tours are a great way to get ideas of what you can do with your own native plant garden.  Sometimes, we go to botanical gardens to get ideas or look to see what’s […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beautiful photos […]
    Kathy Vilim
  • Don’t Skip the Long-Tailed Skipper Butterfly March 13, 2015
    I spotted a skipper butterfly flitting from leaf to leaf on the ticktrefoil (Desmodium spp.). This woody somewhat vine-y genus of plants has many different species.  I’m still not confident in my identification to species, and I tend to think that this one is introduced rather than the native. Since I saw the butterfly on […] We love hearing from you! Please […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Maplicious March 12, 2015
    For most of the year the red maple (Acer rubrum) is an overlooked and underappreciated tree. It is native throughout the eastern US, from the South to the Mid-Atlantic and beyond. It hops right over the Mississippi River and sashays down into eastern Texas. Such a ubiquitous plant is bound to be taken for granted, […] We love hearing from you! Please click h […]
    Ellen Honeycutt
  • It Must Be Spring—I Saw a Robin! March 10, 2015
    This time of year in Indiana I often hear people say excitedly, “Spring is not far away; I saw a robin!” Actually robins should not be used to herald the arrival of spring. This is a common myth. Every autumn robins migrate southward but every winter many robins stay in the northern states and southern […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see a […]
    Joni James

#GardenChat

Conserving Calories In The Garden


“Evolution has not been kind to the bees.”

R. Hellmann

Plant ecologist Robert Hellmann has a lifelong love of studying plants. His passion is now being lived out as he restores six acres of abandoned farm land to reflect the native wildlife areas of New York. His approach is that of a scientist that loves to garden… after all he has advanced degrees in ecology and education… but you’ll never meet a more dedicated and down-to-earth teacher. Bob shared many gems of wisdom and knowledge with me as we toured his property, this is just the beginning.

Help Bees To Conserve Calories

In nature everything works in cycles, a delicate balancing act that is easily altered. The changing landscape of today has made it more difficult than ever for pollinators, especially bees, to carry out their jobs. How so? Aside from the environmental onslaught of pesticides and other synthetic chemicals, the way we garden affects how efficiently they perform their duties.

Bees, by their very nature, are programmed to forage from a single nectar source at a time. In a native wildlife setting you won’t often see a wide variety of blossoming plants, but rather the area undergoes several different phases with large masses of a single plant ultimately dominating the landscape for a period of time. This is ideal for the bees who expend a lot of calories searching for the same blossoms to collect from. In many home gardens the focus is, of course, color and flowers throughout the season which is excellent for pollinator food sources, but the way we plant them can be detrimental to the bees’ efforts.

How can we help bees conserve calories and encourage strong populations? Easy. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Grow gardens that include plants native to your area which are rich nectar sources for bees and other pollinators and food sources for other wildlife. (Your local cooperative extension has lists of  natives for your area.)
  2. Plan the garden beds so that there are periods with just one or two varieties of plants blooming at a time, and plant them together in drifts.
  3. Include larger plantings of late summer and fall flowering plants to help colonies survive through winter.
  4. In the vegetable garden the same idea applies. If you are seed saving and want to prevent cross-pollination of your open-pollinated varieties you can stagger the flowering times by starting different varieties from seed a week or two apart. (You can also isolate blossoms.)
  5. To ensure a healthy garden use organic and sustainable garden practices.

I confess my gardens are a jumble of flowering plants and vegetables at any given time. Now that we’re moving our vegetable beds and creating a new garden, I’m going to plan a bit more. Planting in drifts that bloom at different times isn’t a new design concept by any means… it’s just one I haven’t followed very closely. There’s always something new to try…and the bees are worth it! Happy gardening!

2 comments to Conserving Calories In The Garden

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