“Life is all one—as big as the world and as small as a honeybee” – Hattie Ellis
May is Garden for Wildlife Month— so now’s the perfect time of year to improve your garden's ecosystem by planting the right flowers, herbs and vegetables to make a thriving habitat for bumble bees and other native wildlife. Honeybee populations around the world are in decline—but you can help this season by adding bee-friendly plants to your garden.
With the growing cost of food and anxiety surrounding the use of pesticides in farming, it’s never really been a better time to try your hand at gardening in your own home! Whether you have a large backyard for tilling or a small balcony for container gardening—you can achieve great results no matter the space you’re working with. Just check out my fire escape garden!
If you’re wondering about which plants are best to start off your bee-friendly garden, tomato and basil are both easy to grow and complement each other on a chemical level. They provide yellow and white flowers for bees to pollinate and later on develop fruit to enjoy.
Re-visiting Victory Gardens
During World War II, Victory Gardens were planted by families in the United States to help prevent food shortage and stretch their rations. With transport tied up by military efforts, people began planting gardens in their own backyards. By 1944, there were over 20 million Victory Gardens planted which in turn were responsible for producing over 40% of all vegetables grown in the US (National World War II Museum)
. In this sense, Americans on the home front were also doing their part to win the war by providing excess food to can and send overseas.
In the same way that citizens planted victory gardens to help the food shortage during the war, we need to plant more pollen and nectar-rich gardens to help save dwindling bee populations and in turn, pollinate our crops to produce fruit.
Planting a Bee-Friendly Garden
“We all eat. About one out of every three mouthfuls of food has been pollinated by bees” – Lori Weidenhammer
Planting a bee-friendly garden begins at your local garden centre. Choose organic nursery plants or learn how to grow your own plants from organic seeds. Using a variety of flowers, herbs and vegetables will help draw bees in and provide a buffet for all pollinators. Common colours that attract honeybees are blue, purple, yellow and white as well as fragrant herbs like lavender, rosemary, thyme and even catnip. Try planting some milkweed, bee balm or purple coneflower and watch your garden come to life!
Lastly and above all, refrain from using bee-killing pesticides and opt for natural solutions to your gardening blunders. When you begin to evaluate the ecological function of each part of your garden, you’ll find it not only pleasing to the eyes but useful for providing food for bees when left to blossom.
Lori Weidenhamer. “10 Tips for Creating a Bee-Friendly Garden”
. CBC News: British Columbia
. May 12th, 2016
National World War II Museum. “Victory Gardens at a Glance”
. National World War II Museum: New Orleans
. Accessed May 13th, 2016
Stacy Torino. “12 New Bee-Supporting Plants to Plant this Year”
. Mother Nature Network
. May 6th, 2016
The Toronto Star. “Plant a Garden to Save the Bees”
. The Toronto Star: Outdoor Living
. May 6th, 2016