To Bee or not to Bee
|By: Rhonda Fleming Hayes - About Rhonda
That is the question.
Or are you allergic to bees? Will children play in your garden? Do stinging insects just scare you silly?
OK, that’s more than one question. Yet those are the questions you might ask in deciding to have a bee-friendly garden or a bee-free garden.
We have always admired bees; their hives are architectural wonders, their navigational abilities uncanny, their productivity envied. Bees were revered by the Egyptians who buried jars of honey in tombs for the life beyond. During Napoleon’s time the bee was a popular motif of the Empire period of design.
Bees seem to be back in fashion again. Books about bees and beekeeping fill the shelves, both fiction and non-fiction. This may be a good thing for the bees. Raising awareness may save them from the endangered species list.
Besides starvation and pesticide use, bees face new problems today. Two different mites are causing a dangerous reduction in the bee population. The varroa mite feeds on bee larvae, while the tracheal mite damages adult bee lungs.
Bees are attracted to blue, purple, yellow and white. Old-fashion shrubs with nectar-rich blossoms like lilac, honeysuckle and azalea are bee magnets. Heirloom flowers like cosmos, zinnia, aster and daisies lure them with the promise of pollen. Herbs such as mint, hyssop, salvia, lavender and thyme are covered with bees during bloom time.
There is no guarantee for a bee-free garden, but you can reduce their numbers by using more foliage plants. Plant double-petal varieties of flowers like marigold, geranium, mums and roses whose nectar and pollen has been bred out of them. Lastly it is said that bees like red the least. And bee careful out there.