Category Archives: Bees

A Bee Friendly Garden

Yes, I do love those bees! Whether it be bumblebee, honeybee or masonbee.

Where would we be without our pollinating insects, especially bees! There importance is extraordinary.  Although not all our crops rely on insects to pollinate them, it is estimated that more than 70% of food crops rely on bees and other pollinators.  Even higher percentages with wild plants.

With the decline in bee population we can do our part by helping attract bees to our gardens with bee and pollinator friendly plants.  Even in the vegetable gardens.  You don’t have to have a specific bee garden, just add beautiful plants that attract these insects, here an there throughout your landscape.

There is a plethora of bee friendly plants but they do like certain types.  Flowers with flat landing places (umbel) and those with wide trumpets like squash flowers in sunny locations.  Bees also prefer white, yellow, violet, purple and blue flowers.  Native and heirloom varieties are best as many new hybrids are pollen-free.  Try to have at least four or five different types of plants flowering at any one time.

Some great examples of open and flat flowers are calendula, poppies, and those from the Apiaceae family such as flowering dill, parsley, fennel, carrots and Queen Ann’s lace.  Sunflowers offer a great landing pad with plenty of pollen and adds a cheeriness to the garden.  Yarrow, echinacea, tansy, clover, alyssum, catmints are all beautiful popped in here and there in sunny locations offering nectar-rich pollen.  Most plants that butterflies love, bees enjoy as well, such as the butterfly bush.  Think about edging a garden with lavender, sages and salvias.  Even sedums when flowering are wonderful attracting plants.  Edible herbs like basil, sweet marjoram, mint, oregano, rosemary, thyme, winter savory and lemon balm serve more than a purpose for the kitchen!  By adding pollinator plants you increase the biodiversity in the garden, overall better health for your garden and you!

Keep your garden clean of harmful chemical sprays!  Even organic types of pest controls should be used responsibly.  Don’t go on a spraying party for just a few pest.  Hand removal is best for those small problems.  When you truly need to spray, spray in the late evening, when all bees have returned to their hives and never spray the flowers!!

Beekeeping is becoming popular these days.  Get informed.  Take some classes from your local county extension or join bee clubs.  Become bee friendly to preserve our future!

Looking for a seed collection of bee friendly plants?  Click on the link and you’ll find a A Bee Seed Collection .

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Beautiful Monarda Attracts Beneficials

Brillant beautiful Monarda lands in many places in my gardens as a favorite perennial.  This easy to care for perennial has a lot going for it!  Besides its easy care, it attracts nectar seeking hummingbirds, butterflies, honey bees and the humble bumble bee.

Monarda is commonly known as bee balm, but is also known as wild bergamot, bergamot mint, horsemint, wild oregano and Oswego tea.  It comes in an array of pink, red, white and purple colors and some even have double-flowers.

Monarda is not to persnickety in our garden, but in hot climates light shade keeps the leaves from burning out and it does best if it isn’t allowed to dry out the first year while establishing its root system.  Most Monarda varieties seem to adapt to most soil conditions, but bloom better in well-drained rich soil.  Prepare planting site by loosening soil to the depth of 12-15 inches with a digging fork, then add a 2 to 4 inch layer of compost.  Each spring add a new layer of compost to retain moisture.  Remove spent flowers to keep plants looking tidy.  After frost arrives in fall or winter, plants will die back to the ground and it’s time to cut back to one or two inches above soil line.  Plants can be divided in early spring to keep them looking healthy and the bonus…More plants!

My favorite herb garden has a nice clump of Monarda of various sizes and colors.  I suggest a chair nearby to take a few minutes and enjoy the bumblebees and other flying friends that come and visit!  Now if that doesn’t relax you, I don’t know what would!

Monarda isn’t just for looks though, it’s a fabulous remedy for a sore throat.  Harvest a handful of leaves and flowers and let them wilt. Once they have wilted (12 hours will work), infuse/submerge them into some local raw honey and let them sit for at least 4 weeks.  Strain out the plant material after the four weeks and transfer honey into a dry bottle and label. Take 1-2 teaspoons as needed for sore throats and coughs.



Filed under Bees, Flower Gardens, Gardening, Herbs

Anise Hyssop

Growing & Using Anise Hyssop

Anise Hyssop Flowering

It’s Fall!  Well not technically, but around here when the monsoons come in and the temps cool just a little and mornings are crisp, I know it’s time to start planting fall crops, whether it be vegetables, herbs, annual or perennial flowers.  Anise hyssop is first on my list.  It’s a member of Agastache genus and is a favorite herb to attract hummingbirds. But more than that it’s a great mosquito repellant plant (perfect for fall monsoon weather).  Bees love Anise Hyssop!  I see bees hover over its flowers more than any other herb in the garden.  Any help with pollination in the garden these days…I’m on it!

Agastache (Anise Hyssop) comes in a variety of colors from purple-blue to the ornamental varieties coral, apricot and pink.  Culinary Anise Hyssop makes a delicious tea.  The leaves and blossoms can both be used and they have the fragrance of anise.  Add the leafy stem to flavor a pitcher of water.  Scatter the blossoms over a cooked vegetable like beets, or a plate of slice peaches.  Add color to a lettuce salad.  Be creative.

Anise Hyssop is a very showy plant, blooming from June to September.  Giving a bit of care by deadheading will insure larger blooms for a longer duration.  Some plants will reach 32 inches tall or taller and they make a great accent in the background of herb or perennial beds.  Once established, Anise Hyssop is very drought tolerant and most varieties are hardy to -20 degrees Fahrenheit. This plant is a winner in my book because it’s soil needs are minimal.  Good soil drainage and a little compost upon planting is all it seems to need.  A great plant for dry-land gardeners.  You can also divide in the early spring with ease.

Anise Hyssop Tea: Bruise a small handful of leaves by crumpling them in your hand, then add to a teapot, pour boiling water over the leaves, cover the pot and let it steep for 10 minutes. Easy as tea!

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Filed under Bees, Flower Gardens, Gardening, Herbs