Healthy Gardens need Healthy Bees

Healthy Gardens need Healthy Bees

Bees play an essential role as pollinators in the garden. Without bees many of our vegetables and fruit would never get to harvest stage.

One way to encourage more bees into your garden is to plant lots of flowers to attract bees and other pollinators. For example, mixing flowers among the vegies not only adds colour, it helps to ensure that there are enough bees around to do the job. Of course the bees aren’t interested in helping the flowers; they’re simply chasing the pollen and nectar that the flowers produce. Pollination is incidental. Honey bees, while important, are not the only pollinators. Many other insects play a part in pollination, as do environmental factors such as wind. Native bees, of which there are more than 1500 species in Australia, are also critically important. Tomatoes, for example, are pollinated by what’s termed ‘buzz pollination’. Buzz pollination is almost impossible for honey bees but can be carried out by certain native bees.

Take special care when applying garden sprays such as insecticides. Remember bees and many other pollinators are insects so they will be adversely affected if insecticides are used without due care. They may even be harmed by other substances such as fungicides (*). Click below for Australian experts’ views on pesticide risks to honeybees.

See more information from Plant health Australia

Learn more about buzz pollination

What to plant to attract bees

Here are some easy-to-grow, bee-attracting flowers that can be started from Yates seeds. Favourite, bee-friendly colours seem to be yellow, purple or blue.

Some of the herbs are also very bee-friendly. They have a natural affinity with vegetables and many are said to deter insect pests in the garden. Try these herbs:

Download the spraying safely pdf 

Don’t forget, though, that some people have a life-threatening allergic reaction to bees and bee-stings. Perhaps a cute sign about yours being a ‘bee-friendly garden’ will provide visitors with an appropriate warning.

To encourage native pollinators, plant native flowering plants and try to leave some natural parts of your garden. Areas with unmown grass, native shubs, logs, ponds and rocks all help provide suitable nesting and feeding sites for native insects and other small creatures.