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  • Native Plants Beyond the Garden August 28, 2014
    I love having native plants in my garden. Every moment that I can do so finds me slipping into the garden to find a beautiful flower, a hummingbird sipping on cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), an insect collecting food or collecting prey, and to listen to the sweet song of birds. As much as I love […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see al […]
    Ellen Honeycutt
  • When a Tree Falls in the Schoolyard August 25, 2014
    We had only one shade tree at our suburban DC elementary school, a 50ish-year-old pin oak, and it was cut down over the summer without notice. After the shock and swearing wore off, I started thinking about how we could use what remained. Almost anything can be turned into a lesson, including a prominently placed […] We love hearing from you! Please click he […]
    Stacey Evers
  • The Worms Crawl In but Do They Swim? August 22, 2014
    This week I noticed that there was some webbing on a Baldcypress tree I planted a while back. At some point my property was likely home to many of these trees as is evident by decaying knees I see when the pond level gets low.  These majestic trees require wet conditions during part of the year […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the b […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Native Shrubs for Small Gardens August 19, 2014
    For those with small wildlife gardens, gardening with native plants has always been a challenge. Natives tend to be not just large size but absolutely huge. Fortunately the nursery industry is responding to the growing demand for wildlife friendly native plants for the small space garden. Plant breeders have come out with some outstanding dwarf […] We love h […]
    Karyl Seppala
  • Wildlife Deception as a Defense August 15, 2014
    Tanner, the English Setter was headed out for his afternoon stroll of the yard.  I saw something over behind a tall cluster of Bidens alba and it seemed to be thrashing.  Tanner zoomed on over and flushed out a Red-Shouldered Hawk.  The hawk flew off with its feathers somewhat ruffled in the quick getaway. Tanner […] We love hearing from you! Please click he […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Baldcypress Ecosystem August 13, 2014
    Birding in Delaware at Trap Pond State Park, a baldcypress ecosystem. After a wonderful trip aboard the Mummichog II for the Cape Water Taxi Ecotour to explore the ecosystem of the Indian River Bay in southeastern Delaware, today we headed to southwestern Delaware to explore a fresh water ecosystem. Trap Pond State Park, near Laurel, […] We love hearing from […]
    Carole Sevilla Brown
  • Cardinal Flower August 12, 2014
      Hummingbirds love it. So do I. If it was a Corvette Stingray, the color would be called “Victory Red.” It is a blazing, brilliant, red, not often seen in a native plant. In the picture above, you see a sweat bee, using a leaf as a resting spot on the Cardinal Flower’s, Lobelia cardinalis, landing […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all t […]
    Brenda Clements Jones
  • Raising Question Mark butterflies August 11, 2014
    Question Mark butterflies can be elusive if you don’t know how to attract them to your beautiful wildlife garden. They are drawn more to sap runs (often created by woodpeckers) and rotting fruit than the flowers in your yard. If you have a plum or cherry tree you may see these and other butterflies feeding […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to s […]
    Judy Burris
  • Get Rid of Tatarian Honeysuckle and Make Money Doing It? August 9, 2014
    Eliminating invasive Tartarian Honeysuckle by making cats happy? Years ago, I bought a package of three plump catnip mice for the family kitties. The stuffed mice were cute little critters, with thread for whiskers and gray felt bodies filled nearly to bursting with catnip. “Made in China,” said the labels. The cats loved their new […] We love hearing from y […]
    Sally Roth

#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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