Hello Bee Friends,
How was your winter? Are you ready for Spring? I know I am. And I think… it might actually be here! I saw a Robin yesterday, sitting in a frosty tree fluffing up its feathers to keep warm.
Yesterday was frosty, but today is going to be wonderfully warm. The bugs are just starting to stir, but no flowers are blooming … yet. This is the time of year when birds are at risk of having very little food. And not just birds, but beneficial bugs too. In winter, Ladybugs gather together and crawl under mulch to hibernate. If woken too soon, they will have no food to eat and might die (or eat each other). So I am always hesitant about cleaning up my yard too soon and disturbing the Ladybugs.
Here are some things we can do to prepare our yards, whether big or small or even just a balcony, for the Bees this year:
1. Bee very gentle when cleaning up your yard. If there are flowers blooming in your area such as daffodils, crocuses, cherry trees, and other spring flowers, then it’s time to clean up. Many municipalities have a Spring Clean Up period where they will pick up, or you can drop off, your yard waste. If there are no flowers yet, or not many, then just sit back and enjoy the weather and leave the mulch and fallen leaves for a few more weeks.
2. Look for Bee’s nests. When cleaning up your yard, consider a compost bin. Check for ladybugs under any mulch. Some bees also overwinter in underground nests. A fun activity for your kids (or you) is to try to find these nests. These are small piles of dirt with a hole in the middle. Here is a good article that describes these Bees. If you find these nests, mark the area with a stick in your yard so you don’t disturb them when digging or planting.
Bee on a Sedum (Stonecrop) flower
3. Find flowers and plants that are good for Bees. Check with your local garden shop on what types of flowers are good for attracting Bees, Butterflies, and Birds. Bees need both nectar and pollen producing flowers. Here is a good article that lists five plants to consider. Of these, I have planted Rockcress, Lavender, and Grape Hyacinth in my yard. It is best to buy native plants or heirloom varieties, as some hybrids are sterile. Local flowers are the best food for local bees.
4. Consider growing wild flowers. Clover is an excellent alternative to your plain boring grass. 🙂 Not only does it provide a soft ground cover, but Bees love clover flowers! Dandelions are also good for providing early food for Bees. Once the flowers are spent on them, pick off the heads so you don’t spread seeds to your neighbours yard – or better yet, try to convince your neighbours that Dandelions are essential flowers. Bee sneaky – 🙂 create a space in your yard and transplant dandelions there, so they are bright and showy. Other wild flowers that grow in my area are Goldenrod, Phlox, Vetch, and Asters. For wildflowers, you can also check around for any new housing developments or other construction in your area that are just beginning as there may be wildflowers you can transplant to your yard or into a pot or planter (ask permission of the landowner first).
5. Plan your garden. This is a great time to grab your colourful garden books, go to the Library, go to a good site such as this one, and go to your local Garden shop. Make a list of five plants you can place in your own yard or balcony for the Bees. What five plants will you choose?
Happy planting! and Bee Nice to Bees! 😀