Bee Friendly Gardens

Photo credit: https://www.maxpixel.net/photo-5913381Nesting Help Insect Hotel Bee Hotel Insect House

Bees, and other pollinators such as butterflies, birds, bats, and insects, pollinate plants, and veggie patches while boosting the colour and beauty of our gardens. Their pollinating activities are crucial to food security as well as being vitally important in sustaining eco-systems, and enhancing biodiversity by helping plants reproduce.

One in every three spoonful of what we eat depends solely or partly on bees, and pollinators. Without them, much of the world’s food supply would end. Many fruits and vegetables such as: broccoli; cucumbers; lettuce; peppers; parsley; pumpkin; Brussel sprouts; and watermelon require bees, and other insects for cross pollination.

There are many Australian native plant species that provide nectar, and pollen for bees and other pollinators. Honey bees are the most important pollinators for the majority of our crop species but native bees, and other insect pollinators play important roles too (refer the links at the end of this post on European honey bees and Australian native bees).

Bee friendly gardens at home, in parks, public spaces, school gardens and in streets along nature strips and median strips play an important role in providing a sanctuary for biodiversity and building essential pollinator habitat.

There are 1,700 identified native bee species in Australia and it is thought another 1,000 species are undiscovered. Sadly, bee populations across the world are diminishing due to climate change, pesticides and industrial agriculture, loss of habitat, the varroa mite disease and the commercial viability of beekeeping.

Bees need a good variety of pollen and nutrients from a diverse number of plants. Gardens can be any size but the bigger the better. What helps bees also assists other pollinators.

The first step in attracting native bees is to plant lots of flowers and build up the soil for native bees to nest in. Another way to attract native bees is to build ‘bee hotels’ within holes in tree trunks or walls protected from the elements.

What is Biodiversity?

Biodiversity is the amount of variety of life on Earth. It is the number of different species of plants, animals, and microorganisms.

Biodiversity supports a larger number of plant species and, therefore, a greater variety of crops providing a crucial role in food nutrition as well as protecting freshwater resources

Photo credit: https://www.piqsels.com/en/public-domain-photo-fyodt

Street Gardens and School Gardens

Street gardens aim to increase biodiversity and habitat with plantings of indigenous understory plants – shrubs, herbs, grasses. Plant understories are the home for native insects and need to be recreated in streets, community gardens and public spaces for pollination to occur.

Working on street gardens with schools to develop school gardens are a great way for volunteers to be involved. Local council regulations are important to comply with when planning street gardens and some guidelines unfortunately are quite restrictive.

When developing bee friendly gardens in both streets, and schools It’s important that appropriate steps be followed which include identifying a good site, thoughtful planning, design, and preparation of the site with a focus on improving the habitat.

For further information explore the links provided below.

Links:

Australian Native Bees

European Honeybees

Wheen Bee Foundation Powerful Pollinator Planting Guides

Rotarians for Bees

Victorian School Gardens Program

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