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  • The Wildlife Nursery July 22, 2014
      Gardening often provides the closest encounters we ever have with wild creatures.  It is a solace and a distraction in bad times, and a shared joy in good ones.  ~Ursula Buchan     When you establish a wildlife garden, you need to be aware that at some point in the spring, summer or fall you will […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all t […]
    Donna Donabella
  • The Good in Grapevines July 18, 2014
    I am sometimes dismayed by the rapid growth of my Muscadine grapevines (Vitis rotundifolia).  Then I spot a bird picking through them and I relax and am glad that I procrastinated on cutting back. Heck, this southeastern native vine can be cut back at any time. This past week I watched the cardinals dancing in […] We love hearing from you! Please click here […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • A Monarch Waystation in a Mall’s Landscaping July 17, 2014
    At the Healthy Living Market, which occupies the old JC Penny’s space in the Wilton Mall of Saratoga Springs, NY, there is a new Monarch Waystation site. I had the privilege of doing a landscape renovation to the surrounding island beds and sidewalk gardens this spring. We included many native perennials, and cumulatively the site […] We love hearing from yo […]
    Jesse Elwert
  • Smooth Sumac July 15, 2014
      Just a couple weeks ago, some of the bushes along my woodland edges were abuzz with pollinator activity. The flowers of Smooth Sumac, Rhus glabra, were the magnet.   Butterflies, including this Red-banded Hairstreak, Calycopis cecrops, were part of the crowd.   Honey Bees, gathering nectar, to help some bee keeper with his honey supply were also attracted. […]
    Brenda Clements Jones
  • Sweet as honeyvine July 14, 2014
    This “weed” is a host plant Honeyvine milkweed (Cynanchum laeve) is a vigorous, perennial trailing vine that is native to our eastern and central states.  Some people consider it to be a nuisance “weed”, but I call it Monarch caterpillar food. Hardy hearts I like the honeyvine’s heart-shaped leaves and the fact that I never […] We love hearing from you! Plea […]
    Judy Burris
  • Yellow and Blue make Beauty in the Garden July 11, 2014
    When I see the bright yellow flowers of the Partridge Pea (Chamaecrista* fasciculata) I tend to think of Sulphur butterflies because it is a larval host for several members of the Sulphur butterfly family. The other day I was out enjoying the diversity of insect activity on the Partridge Pea plants back in my pond […] We love hearing from you! Please click h […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Tracking Down a Lonesome Dove July 11, 2014
    Boy, were husband Matt and I baffled when a friend sent us this picture of a bird nest on the ground, with chick and egg. “What is it?” he wanted to know. “Precocious young?” That was our first thought when seeing a feathered youngster next to an egg—that “precocial” youngster already had feathers when it hatched. […] We love hearing from you! Please click h […]
    Sally Roth
  • What Native Plants Will Stay Green In Summer Drought? July 10, 2014
    In Southern California, we have a problem: There’s no green stuff in the summertime.  Many of our native perennial plants die back and leave you with a garden that is, well, lacking for the color green.  Most of us have this ńeed to see green in the garden, so much so that we would go […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beautiful p […]
    Kathy Vilim
  • Vital Velvet Mesquite II July 9, 2014
      In this summer month when the mesquite pods begin to ripen, I have been discussing mesquite in a number of my blogs (see list at the end of this article). The naturally sweet seed pods of the native velvet mesquite (Prosopis velutina) are a valuable source of food for numerous desert dwellers. Two-legged desert […] We love hearing from you! Please click he […]
    Jacqueline Soule

#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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