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Pollinators - It's All the Buzz



It’s no coincidence that you see bees in the garden and landscape. The bees you see are not out for a leisurely flight through your yard, they are hard at work! Bees are of vital importance to a healthy eco-systems and for putting food on your plate. A third of the food production in the world is dependent on the work of bees. The service bees provide as pollinators makes food production possible.

There are numerous varieties of bees that call Wisconsin home. In fact the state insect is the Honey Bee (Apis Mellifera). Since these insects are doing all of us a great favor, the least we can do is make their lives a bit easier.

When bees come to your yard they are looking for two things, nectar and pollen. Notice I didn’t mention a human to sting. Honey Bees are much like you and me, they are going about their business, trying to keep themselves and their loved ones nourished. They don’t sting for pleasure; Wasps and Hornets are the jerks that do that. Honey Bees sting out of self-defense. So if you leave them alone, they will leave you alone.

As I mentioned, bees are looking for two things, nectar and pollen. Nectar is chock full of sugars, their main source of energy. Pollen on the other hand provides proteins and fats. Like us, they need a balanced diet.

How do bees pollinate flowers you ask? The female bees are the ones that are out doing the work. When they perch themselves on a flower to enjoy a meal, by default some pollen from the stamen of the flower (male reproductive organ of the plant) sticks to the hairs on their body. As bees do, she tends to get around. When she visits the next flower, some of this pollen rubs off on the stigma, or tip of the pistil of the flower. Which is the female reproductive organ of the plant. So if you were never told the story of the birds and the bees, there is at least the bee’s side of the story. Ask your mom or dad what the birds do.


Now coming back to what you can do to make the lives of bees easier. There are numerous plants that you can include in your landscape and gardens that are favorites of bees. Not only do bees like these plants, but you will too! In addition to including plants that attract bees you can also do them a favor by not using pesticides.

Many of the plants and specifically perennials I use in my designs are considered pollinators. They are also great plants for bringing color and texture and seasonal interest to the landscape and gardens. I’ve written in the past about the importance of seasonal interest. It is also important for bees, by extending the bloom cycle within your gardens and landscape you also extending the food cycle for the bees that frequent your property.

The following are a few pollinator plants you’ll find on my plant pallet.

Aster

Black Eyed Susan

Joe Pye Weed

Lupine

Penstemon

Purple Coneflower

Salvia

Sedum

Patrick Hughes is an award winning landscape designer based in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin and working throughout Sheboygan County. If you are looking for a New & Better Yard & Garden contact Patrick today! 920-912-8485.

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