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  • National Invasive Species Awareness February 27, 2015
    It is National Invasive Species Awareness Week 2015.  Somehow the memo that came to my neck of the woods didn’t highlight the “AWARENESS” keyword in the promotional name.  As a result, it seems the invasive species around here thought it was an invitation to move in and celebrate…like Mardi Gras.  HARUMMPH!!!! Early in the week […] We love hearing from you! […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Invasives and Nuance February 26, 2015
    Invasives and Nuance I’ve had a long and complicated relationship with Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum), and we finally broke up for good this year. The opening photo shows C. perfoliatum’s cousin, Compass Plant (Silphium laciniatum). It’s Invasive Species Awareness Week, so I thought maybe it’s a good time to be open about my experience of […] We love heari […]
    Jesse Elwert
  • Where Do Spiders Go in Winter February 25, 2015
    Do spiders hibernate in winter? Do spiders come inside your house in winter? Where do spiders go in winter? These are questions I’m frequently asked by our readers and also from audiences at conferences and workshops as I travel to speak about Ecosystem Gardening around the country. So lets take a look at how spiders […] We love hearing from you! Please clic […]
    Carole Sevilla Brown
  • Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers February 24, 2015
    Beautiful patterns, holes in tree bark, looking like a sort of Morse Code, is not the work of Martians leaving us a message, or wood boring insects. These holes are the work of a brightly colored, medium sized woodpecker, the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Sphyrapicus varius. The photo, above, is a cluster of holes (called sapwells) that I discovered less […] We […]
    Brenda Clements Jones
  • Dreaming of Spring February 23, 2015
      I think it’s safe to say that those of us who do not live in Florida are sick and tired of shoveling snow this winter. I for one am dreaming of Spring in a big way! So I was looking through some of my photos from years gone by and thought I would share […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beautiful photos and let us know what you […]
    Judy Burris
  • Monarchs for President’s Day February 22, 2015
    The long President’s Day weekend, 2015 found me camping at a favorite spot in Southern California’s Santa Monica Mountains, Leo Carrillo State Beach. This campground at the far north end of Malibu includes its own private beach, a pristine cove on the Pacific Ocean.  To the east of CA’s Route 1 (known also as the […] We love hearing from you! Please click he […]
    Kathy Vilim
  • Bluebirds Staking Claim February 20, 2015
    It’s a brisk day here in Central Florida with record lows hovering around the freezing mark.  The birds are in full flurry, tanking up on the various berries and fruits that are available for winter dining in my native plant garden. I was pleased to see the Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) are back house hunting […] We love hearing from you! Please click he […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Gardening for the Birds in the Desert February 17, 2015
    What do desert birds need? Same as every living thing on earth needs, food, water and a place to live. So after you put in a bird bath for the drinking water what can you do to attract birds to the garden? Bird feeders are one easy answer, but you often see a number of […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beautiful photos and let us […]
    Jacqueline Soule
  • In the Garden, the Eagle has Landed February 13, 2015
    As I looked up to the sky, the vultures were flying overhead in full force.  I suspect the remains of some dropped prey may have been in the 3-acre lot across the street.  Vultures in my neighborhood are a routine affair. I live within a mile (as the crow flies) of a wildlife management area […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beau […]
    Loret T. Setters

#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!

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