If anyone else would like to outfit their garden with some more bee friendly plants, we've had great luck with the following:-
-Yellow water iris
-Common comfrey (Makes great fertilizer, and attracts some unique species)
-Honeysuckle (Smells amazing!)
-Bluebells (Good food source for early spring)
-Clovers (Bees really have really taken a liking to these)
-Greater knapweed (Super hardy)
-Hellebore (Late flowerer, so great to keep them running over winter!)
Even in Minnesota, there's a push to restore native prairie grasses, which also benefits bees: https://www.beeculture.com/prairie-restoration/
And what would be "native" to Minnesota given that (at least) 2C temperature raise is pretty much in the books?
As climate changes, conditions change, and so the set of plants best suited to any particular location changes as well.
The himalayan environment spawned some very pernicious and hardy species!
However, the vines themselves are a thorny menace, with a coating of sharp, strong spines that hook backwards towards the root. Catch one of these sometimes slender tendrils around an ankle while walking, and you might think you can just pull through it... and rapidly learn that you shouldn't.
If you can't convince someone to pick them for you, go armoured. I have some old fire turn-out pants that help quite a bit.
They also look wonderful, so they're very much here to stay.
First year was fairly underwhelming, since then have had all sorts of insects and birds as constant backdrop. Last few years two pairs of birds, not sure if same pairs, have used it for their nesting spot - there's always one nest in the blackberries. I guess brambles are staying! The back of the garage seems to have a couple of masonry bees every summer, and there's a lovely extra sound background from it all. There's constant birdsong at the back. A local cat keeps trying for those nests, but hasn't got to them yet, and has failed noisily a few times... :)
We've twice spotted a frog, but we have no pond and there's no open water near us, so that's been a bit surprising.
We had a similar experience with salamanders showing up. I could not imagine what path they took to get to our garden in a pretty urban place where the nearest creek is a couple of miles away and generally concrete lined. The gardener however suggested that they come from the street drains (which in our area drain to the SF bay, they aren't sewers which take water to the water treatment plant). The nearest street drain is about 3 houses down, still quite a hike for a small beast that likes the wet but I suppose manageable.
We'll get the first fruit this year. They're biennial. Super excited.
- Dark Star Ceanothus
further, the leaves can be cooked as pasta filling. mild taste of cucumber. once you have one borage plant, you will never get rid of them. i have both the blue and white variety.
That said I would recommend going with native stuff as it will often be more attractive to the indigenous bees and whatnot (European honey bees are, well, European). Sure, Monarchs like milkweed, but the type of milkweed they like will vary by location. Sure, clovers attract a ton of fauna, but the type of clover will vary.
In California, the California Native Plant Society has an invaluable site where you can look up California native plants and where they're typically found. The sticky monkeyflower and tomcat clover have been especially easy to keep alive.
You can see something similar in our columbine patch, the native blue varieties have reseeded with great success, & the founders are huge and vivacious. But the non-native varieties are pale, small, droopy, stressed, and have not propagated.
P.S. if you're saying you live in coastal CA & tried to grow the local penstemon, did you plant them in the right conditions? They are a xeric plant family, the less you water them the happier they seem...
Of that one group, the sunflower was the only one that survived. The penstemon were just the biggest magnets for aphids, fungus, and spider mites. One of them bolted, but both had some amazing flowers that the bees loved. In the end I think the soil was just nutrient deficient.
The sunflower has mostly taken over (but is loathe to actually flower), and I've planted a magentaish monkey flower and another lupine. This time around the lupine looks much better. The epilobium and the orange monkey flower continue to thrive.
I'd love to plant another penstemon, but I think next up might be a yellow lupine.
Never been there. By "mild" do you mean 'not that cold', relative to other places at the same latitude? Because I thought the UK was pretty cold, although a UK friend told me Germany is colder (generally).
>path of the jet stream.
As lovemenot said, you probably mean Gulf Stream.
1) were there other types of bees, of was all the polinisation done by other insects?
2) what's the point is saving a non-native specie, when so many others need saving?
bumble bees are ground nesters and solitary, for example..they dont create bee hives. better pollinators than honeybees. ditto with carpenter bees/mason bees. honey bees proliferation can displace local pollinators. a balance is needed.
So, this early Spring, I decided that, city be damned, I'd not mow within 40' of the creek. It rapidly turned into a thick meadow.
But then I chickened out, because I knew city officials were coming to inspect the neighboring property. I mowed. In addition to the enormous number of insects, I nearly mauled a turtle, a garden snake, and a bird's nest. So, I said screw it, and put the lawn mower away. I've got plenty of lawn for the kids to play on, and for me to sweat my undies mowing. And the city officials never said anything.
thank you. i am slowly moving my farm operation to no-till or minimal till. ag is the worst thing we have done to our planet and soil biome. soil is living medium.
I know some homeowners hate dandelions with a passion. I don't, and I let them grow. But there's no way my dandelions aren't invading my neighbors' yards (fortunately they don't give a fig). And if they sprayed pesticides to get rid of those dandelions, no way those pesticides aren't blowin into my yard. So both of us would be unhappy.
I had a family friend who inherited an old olive orchard in California. He let it go wild, and it became a little wild-life park. It was fantastic. But the neighbor farmers didn't like it, because they believed that it harbored pests that would eat up their crops, and weeds that would compete with their crops. So the farmers complained, and the county forced him to mow it all down.
Of course, all of this is about which externalities matter, and when, and to whom they matter. In a fair society, that requires examining the public purpose, what priorities we set as a people. In an unfair society, it means who has the power to get their way.
She'd spent 3 years cultivating a pollinator friendly yard. The next day she noticed there were no butterflies around.
The spiders are great, they control the flies and other pests. The ants are a minor annoyance.
There is no reason to spray chemical toxins in a yard because of mosquitos.
If you want to take action to reduce mosquito numbers, start with pooling water. They are often able to breed in ruts left by vehicles driving on paths where they aren't supposed to be.
Which is to say in those areas at least you should most definitely wear long clothes, wear an approved repellent, and avoid sleeping in unprotected areas (rooms with open windows without screens, outdoors without netting, etc).
[2, and annual summaries]: https://www.dshs.texas.gov/idcu/disease/arboviral/westNile/r...
I want this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosquito_laser
If you search for videos, particularly the high speed captures, you'll be impressed.
Perhaps there is a hardier variety? Or maybe they're expecting people to just plant fresh each spring?
We also have a big bunch of yarrow planted in our hellstrip. It grows great in those tough conditions. We don't even water it, and it's always full of bees and other bugs.
I have Pink Chintz, but if I had to do it again I'd probably go with Pink Lemonade (grows faster) mixed with Caraway (culinary)
It is restricted to property of size 5-20 acres, which I think is a great sweet spot that doesn't allow large landowners to abuse the exemption.
Bees are pretty sensitive to various chemicals, I'm not convinced that the population decline isn't also due to urban chemical usages that we haven't discovered yet.
We, however, are permaculture novices/enthusiasts. My girlfriend knows what each plant does, why it grows well or does not, and what it provides to plants/insects around it.
Since moving here a year ago, we have seen a marked increase in bee and bird numbers. Unfortunately, the owners of the property have the "tidy" mentality; periodically they come and destroy flowers and "weeds" that they think do not belong. It's utterly depressing. Tonight, after a culling, I walked and observed many large bees ducking in and out of the flowers on cut plants. And while I don't know the name of the bees we have, they live individually in holes dug in the ground (like the ones in the article).
It is such a battle to educate people that think the right way is to cut the grass on the lowest setting, to use herbicides to remove plants that are not simple grasses, and to otherwise sanitize things they don't understand. When I walked out and spoke to the guy and said, "We really enjoyed the fresh parsley we used from this plant that you just destroyed", he seemed a bit shocked. To him it was a weed.
If the glaciers are indeed melting at unprecedented (in human terms) rates, and the ice caps are melting, and the co2 is accumulating, sea levels and temperatures rising, etc. etc., it becomes quite difficult to see a decent future for humanity beyond 100 (or 40?) years. It's enough to make one want to just burn everything down and finish the job to get it over with.
In some articles, Wikipedia or other, about the term, I saw that traditional gardens in places such as Kerala (India), North-Eastern states of India (like Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, etc. - which have climate partly like Kerala, in the sense of getting a lot of rain), and probably places in other countries, like maybe Thailand, Philippines, etc, are basically like food forests, or rather, food forests are like them (since they came earlier). For example, in home gardens, as they are called in Kerala, common plants grown in the same area (polyculture), often just part of and outside some person's home, include species like banana, coconut, jackfruit (all three are medium to big trees, although banana is more like a herb) (also all three being wonder trees in the sense of having many uses), spices like cardamom, pepper, clove, various edible greens, herbs and spices like turmeric, coriander, cumin, onion, garlic, etc. All growing together in natural symbiosis and helping each other.
>requires no maintenance,
A bit of a nitpick, but they do require maintenance. It is not a closed loop. Since we keep harvesting stuff, nutrients decrease, so we have to add inputs too, like organic manure, compost, etc. Can't keep taking without giving back.
They're named after a butterfly that used to live in the Sunset District of San Francisco, and went extinct because a city was built on their habitat.
Since then I've put in a mason bee shelter, and planted more butterfly friendly plants.
There's a few additional cautions I heard in a talk from a rep of the Xerces Society for protecting invertebrates .
One is that some of the new pesticides are systemic and durable. This means that you can buy a plant from a nursery that is supposedly bee- or butterfly-friendly, but if it was sprayed with one of these pesticides in it's growth, it now will actually be deadly to the very insects you are trying to attract and nurture.
Also, many of the bred variants of the plants may look nice, but actually be incapable of growing the nectar, etc. that supports the insects we're trying to nurture.
So, best to seek out the original native cultivars and organically grown (or at least with known transient non-systemic pesticides).
Also check out the Xerces society and its materials -- they're a wealth of knowledge on the subject.
I've had the idea for years of playing Johnny Appleseed by being "Ryan Flowerseed" and driving around throwing hand fulls of seeds from native flowering species off the shoulder/into the medians of interstates and highways but it would actually be quite expensive to do it even over relatively short distances and I'd probably get a ticket for littering facepalm.
Part of the problem (as always!) is people. There is the Roadsides for Wildlife program, meaning that the county will not spray herbicide in areas with the sign in order to promote wildlife habitat. But a lot of people will take the signs down. I guess because "dandelions ugly."
Since my "lawn" is already mostly clover and other wild plants anyway, I'm definitely going to look into this program.
Likewise, whenever you are running a program to do some kind of home-owner outreach/ change in behavior, its pretty important to have some training, professional educators, validation components to the work. Otherwise the program will get accused of just handing out freebies with no return on investment. As well, you'll want to quantify the residual impact of the program. Typically the goals of these programs is to try and create an overall shift in how people manage their spaces and a 'keeping-up-with-the-joneses' effect. For that to work however, the impact needs to be visually appealing.
Leaving it to homeowners is probably a bad idea.
Here in Indiana many have signs that say something along the lines of "wildflowers, do not cut" so I would presume this means do not spray either.
> Waves of highly infectious viruses sweeping through global honey bee populations have contributed to recent declines in honey bee health. Bees have been observed foraging on mushroom mycelium, suggesting that they may be deriving medicinal or nutritional value from fungi. Fungi are known to produce a wide array of chemicals with antimicrobial activity, including compounds active against bacteria, other fungi, or viruses. We tested extracts from the mycelium of multiple polypore fungal species known to have antiviral properties. Extracts from amadou (Fomes) and reishi (Ganoderma) fungi reduced the levels of honey bee deformed wing virus (DWV) and Lake Sinai virus (LSV) in a dose-dependent manner. In field trials, colonies fed Ganoderma resinaceum extract exhibited a 79-fold reduction in DWV and a 45,000-fold reduction in LSV compared to control colonies. These findings indicate honey bees may gain health benefits from fungi and their antimicrobial compounds.
Though, to be fair, I was going to do it anyway, with or without subsidies.
Also, most home centers have "wildlflower" mix. You'd have to check and see if what is has is native to your area.
We minimized the lawn area and use zoyzia there. It is hardy in our zone, and requires minimal care (no watering, mow every few weeks, no chemicals).
We're fortunate to live in a community without a housing association, so we don't have to worry about that. Some of our neighbors love it, and some hate it since it is not the 'traditional' mowed lawn. We spend a lot less time working on it than they do on theirs, though, and enjoy the critters.
Would be great to see more of this in towns and cities too, new developments that cover an entire area with concrete and a few token trees/shrubs are not a good long term outcome for anyone. I guess it comes down to how much a planning authority can enforce both the implementation and long term upkeep of 'wild' spaces by the private developers and management companies.
That basically means that, while it looks a bit messy for a few weeks, I only have to trim it once rather than twice. It an win-win in my book.
We have a small garden box (4'x8') if Raspberry bushes and when it was flowering there was so much activity around it that it sounded like a hive in there!
One thing I've noticed this year is bumble/honey bees in abundance!
I have family members who are terrified of bees. Don’t want someone to step on a bee and get stung, etc
I bought 40 Mason bee larva from https://masonbeesforsale.com around March and around May I found some reeds in my bee house filled with mud (meaning they had created their nest). It was a fun experiment and at no time did I feel like bees were swarming. If anything, they actually left my yard an pollinated my neighbors plants.
while..as a farmer and beekeeper..i got annoyed because it took away a lucrative source of income from hives and honey...i slowly began to appreciate their rationale. i started seeing so many bees that arent really honey bees.
in california, honey bees are actually foreign italian bees. as a beekeeper, my favourite part of the job is to observe bees...and it was fascinating how many other kinds of bees there were other than italian bees that we usually buy ..as queen bee and nucs..
this, of course, creates an interesting problem. italian honeybees..not being native californian dont always tolerate native californian pollen. in spring..if there is a lack of flowering species, they will feed anyways when they swarm to california buckeye which is likely to be toxic to their digestive systems(this is true too of yellow jessamine vine in the south of usa) and can kill them.
the hack is to make sure they have other nectar flowers in early spring. they wont go to the harmful flowers is sufficient food is around and available. the easy answer is brambles. bramble berries flower early and are pollen/nectar laden. when i heard about it, i felt like i stumbled upon some super awesome secret.
i wish i can encourage everyone to be friends of bees...and other pollinators. there is so much we dont know about them. at times..when i am tired and had a bit of tipple..i even let me mind wander and wonder if they are possibly alien to our planet. bees are almost like alien intelligence. when they leave us, we should be scared...very worried, at least.
Unless you feel that either A- Saving Bees is bad or B- Killing ticks is bad?
TL;dr- we deep enough down the semantics rabbit hole and I'm tapping out. Words, amirite?
Killing "the disease vector" doesn't heal the root problem, which is rampant, culturally and economically endorsed destruction of ecological diversity and the environments that foster it. This is happening on multiple fronts, climate change being one of them.
I agree with the poster who advocated chickens and possums... except that I'd go much further than just chickens and possums. We also need to dramatically rethink the way development happens. And further incentivize land rehabilitation and polyculture farming methods such as permaculture.
And I'm going to go out on a limb and say something very bold. I believe that these are all cut from the same cloth: conventional, extermination focused approaches to "invasive species"; old-school germ theory approaches to infection; peoples' crass approaches to refugees.
And as Whitney Houston used to say, "pass me the coke"^W^W^W^W "I believe the children are our future"
I love bees to death, but white clover in lawns is a good way to introduce children to the business end of honey bees. Trying to get my own family to stop and watch a bush full of honey and bumblebees working has taken years of desensitization both for myself and then for them.
If you don't want bees to be in crisis again in 30 years when those kids are in charge, you need a better plan than this. Or at least a reworded one. What you want is flower beds in yards, (And you need to break the iron fist of the HOA to get more of those), not flowers in lawns.
Wasps and hornets give bees a bad name.
Wasps and hornets? Him once, and myself 2-3 times, but that has nothing to do with plants, those suckers like making hives all over the place.
It's very similar to your wasp experience, and some people's experience with certain dog breeds. What terrifies us is when a creature lashes out and we don't understand why. If we understand we feel we have control of the situation.
Most of us [lack] that feeling of control with wasps (I like parasitic wasps, I still hate the hornet family). Some people have this with chihuahuas or pits (hard to read body language). A lot of people who fear bees have the same thing.
I have to show them that you can put your face right up to bees foraging and nothing happens because they are busy and have no opinion on your proximity (it's the hive they care about).
People won't 'show up' for things they have no feelings about, or things they have negative feelings about. I don't want to deal with another generation of suburban bee-haters when I'm old and grey.
Edit: tortured use of negatives
Or should we shape our world to fit our goals, and help the fearful adapt to it?
I'd say that whether we are supposed to or not, and despite how bad an idea it seems to be, we are shaping the world to fit the most fearful.