We all know how much bees contribute to the environment as they spend each and every day cross-pollinating plants across the world. Despite this, their wild population numbers have decreased significantly over the past several years, which has the potential to dramatically affect our ecosystems.
So, how can we help? Creating a bee-friendly garden is just one easy way we can support and encourage bees to continue their important work, says Taronga Zoo’s beekeeping expert Elio Bombonato. Here, Bombonato shares his top ideas for planting a garden that’s perfect for attracting bees.
1. Get more plants.
Plant more! Even just one flowering native plant can change the landscape for our busy bees. One of the main reasons bees are in decline is because there are less food sources around for them to find. The introduction of more concrete and lawns along with less flowers and plant pollinators means that the environment is becoming more like a desert out there for the bees.
You don’t have to commit to a backyard full of native plants, either. If you have a small courtyard, deck, or balcony, embellish it with potted plants — the bees will thank you for it.
2. Choose plants that attract bees.
Lavender: A particular favorite for bees, the lavender plant is high in nectar and flowers all year round.
Herbs: If you’re looking to start your own herb garden, native bees love herbs like basil, rosemary, and thyme. Most of these are easy to grow, too!
Sunflowers: These are excellent sources of both pollen and nectar. Sunflower heads consist of 1,000 to 2,000 individual flowers joined together, which will keep the bees busy for a long time from summer through autumn.
The best bee-attracting plants are the ones suitable to the growing conditions in your area. Choose varieties that flower throughout all seasons. Bees prefer yellow and blue colored flowers, and native plants tend to work best.
3. Avoid bee-repellant plants.
While there aren’t many plants that deter bees, the ones that do would be non-flowering foliage like shrubs or plants such as eucalyptus. Nonetheless, most plants do try to make themselves as attractive to bees as possible — because without pollination and bees, flowers don’t produce seeds that help to grow new plants and continue the cycle.
4. Make a bee bath.
Just by filling a shallow container of water you can create “bee baths.” Keep your garden bee-friendly by filling the container with pebbles or twigs so the bees can land on these while drinking. Make sure you regularly refill the container with fresh water so they know they can return to the same sport every day to get clean water.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Homes to Love.