Attracting Bees

Attracting Bees

In the United States, there are nearly 5,000 different species of native bees. Most of them are solitary, friendly bees that nest in holes in the ground or burrows in twigs and dead tree limbs. These bees do not have hives to protect them, so they are not aggressive and rarely sting. Bumblebees, carpenter bees, sweat bees, leafcutter bees, digger bees, and others pollinate many different kinds of plants. They play a critical role in healthy wild plant communities and gardens. About 30 percent of our diet is the direct result of a pollinating visit by a bee to a flowering fruit tree or vegetable plant. Providing bee habitat in your yard can increase the quality and quantity of your fruits and vegetables.

Bees are extremely sensitive to many commonly applied insecticides. If you must use chemical insecticides in your garden, apply them in the evening when bees are less likely to be active.

Bees are attracted to most flowering plants, and are especially fond of blue and yellow flowers. Try planting your garden to have different species blooming in the spring, summer, and fall.

Bee Houses

A good use for untreated scrap lumber (at least 3 to 5 inches thick) is to drill holes (from 1/8-inch to 5/16-inch in diameter) about 90 percent of the way into the thick wooden block. Space the holes about 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch apart. The 5/16-inch holes work best as homes for orchard bees which are excellent pollinators of fruit trees. Hang your bee blocks under the eaves of your house or garden shed, protected from direct sun and rain.