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  • Giving Thanks With Gratitude November 26, 2014
    Happy Thanksgiving! Now is one of the times of year that I like to reflect on those thinks for which I am so grateful. And one of those things is you, our dear readers. I and my team members both here at Team Beautiful Wildlife Garden, as well as Team Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens are […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beauti […]
    Carole Sevilla Brown
  • Snapdragon Shrubs November 25, 2014
    Life in the Southwest is unique in many ways, and tops on the list are plants you don’t find anywhere else on earth. One of these is a shrubby member of the snapdragon family, the Leucophyllum. Native to dry, calcareous areas of Chihuahuan Desert in the states of Texas USA and Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, […] We love hearing from you! Please click here t […]
    Jacqueline Soule
  • Create a Portable Composter November 24, 2014
      Now that fall is winding down, you might want to begin thinking towards next year by taking on this project now. Do you do home composting? Have you often wished you had a portable composter? This is a inexpensive project ($20) that can be completed in less than an hour. First you need to […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beaut […]
    Joni James
  • The Monarchs of Venice, California November 22, 2014
    The morning sun rose over the canals of Venice, California, its soft yellow color reflected in the water, as I stood watching the Monarchs, already up and about.  The pocket park they were visiting was still mostly in shade, so I didn’t expect to see the orange-winged beauties until hours later, when the sun would […] We love hearing from you! Please click h […]
    Kathy Vilim
  • Balance in the Garden: Ichneumon Parasitic Wasp November 21, 2014
    Sometime ago I talked about how some wasps keep a garden in balance by using other arthropods as their larval hosts, laying eggs to hatch and feed off the caterpillars of moths or butterflies or beetle larvae.  It’s Nature’s way of ensuring you don’t get too many of one species.  The food chain in action. […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to se […]
    Loret T. Setters
  • Thankful for Nature November 20, 2014
    As I prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, my list of things to do grows. My mental list of what I am thankful for is in progress as well, and always at the top of that list are the gifts that the natural world has given us. From tiny pollinators to towering oaks, our world would […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beautiful photos […]
    Ellen Honeycutt
  • Saying Goodbye to All the Plants in My Front Garden November 19, 2014
    Well, it’s digging day. A day I’ve known was coming since we bought our house 14 years ago. Seems that over 100 years ago when my house was built it was considered a good idea to use clay pipes to carry away the sewage from the houses in this neighborhood. Think about it. You know […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beautiful photo […]
    Carole Sevilla Brown
  • Teaching native habitats with trout November 17, 2014
    It might seem fishy to set up a 55-gallon fish tank and say you’re going to use to it to teach outdoor education, but so far raising brook trout has been one of the most exciting and engaging projects we’ve taken on at the elementary school where I work. In the local school system, animal […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beautif […]
    Stacey Evers
  • Aphids are Good? Wait….WHAT??? November 14, 2014
    Down at my pond recently, I waited patiently for a flower fly to land for a photo op.  I use a point and shoot camera and have yet to find that the sports setting is effective at getting close-up photos of insects so I don’t use it.  I took a random shot or two while […] We love hearing from you! Please click here to see all the beautiful photos and let us k […]
    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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