By Christy Erickson
Ms. Erikson is a guest contributor and writer for the Saving Our Bees website.
Bees may seem like pesky insects, but they play an essential role in our ecosystem and they are facing sizable threats in today’s society. These insects are vital in pollinating many of the crops we rely on to eat, but pesticides, parasites, diminishing habitats, and other environmental factors are causing population reductions in many species of bees. Even if you are a beginning gardener with only a small space to work with, you can help the bees in their quest to survive.
A small space can easily be tailored to be bee-friendly
You do not need to have a large yard to help the bees via a pollinator-friendly garden. In fact, you can create a garden via pots on a windowsill or with window boxes that attract the bees and helps them thrive. If gardening is new to you, it may be difficult to know how to choose the right plants. However, there are plenty of resources available to guide you in the right direction.
One fun way to get started is to take advantage of the Pollinator Partnership site set up by the United States Department of Agriculture. The site makes it easy for you to put together a virtual window box, playing around with the options until you find something you like. Once you have the perfect creation, you can also use it as a base to create your real-life bee garden at home.
Mix your flower choices and look for sunlight and shelter from the wind
As you are choosing the window to use for your bee garden, Bumble Bee notes that you need to consider the sunlight the spot receives, as well as how exposed it is to wind. For example, you don’t want to choose plants that require a lot of sun if your chosen window is fairly sheltered from direct sunlight. In addition, you need to make sure the plants won’t be battered in a windy location.
Before purchasing anything, think about what you want to incorporate into your window bee garden. Fragrant flowers are often great picks and it can be helpful to combine some tall plants with shorter ones. Aim to have several of each flower you choose and try to combine choices that will produce blooms at different times to help the bees throughout their full season.
Focus on easy, bee-friendly choices
A window bee garden can be started with either seeds or established plants depending on how much you want to spend, how quickly you want to see results, and what mix you decide to use. Some mixed seed packets are designed specifically for bee gardens, or you can mix and match a combination of plants native to your area. Outdoor seed planting can be a bit unpredictable, so beginners may find it easier to go with starts instead.
What flowers work well in window sill or window box bee gardens? Treehugger recommends short varieties of cornflowers, sunflowers, and nasturtiums. Baby’s breath is another popular choice, and flowers like daffodils, crocus, forget-me-nots, and snowdrops often do well too. In addition to the windowsill or window box flowers, try to add one or two shallow dishes of water near your plants so the bees can easily hydrate.
If the challenges that bees are facing concern you, put together a pollinator-friendly garden to provide some support. Keep things simple by focusing on simple window boxes or windowsill containers, incorporating plants native to your area that will entice these insects to pay your area a visit. It doesn’t take much to get started on a plan like this, but your efforts will make a big difference to these bees struggling to thrive.