Petunias and I go way back. I loved their bright colurs for one thing. Deep purple, pinks…even red ones lifted my spirits when I saw their shining faces beaming in the sun on our balcony. Seemed perfect. Oh, then there was the voice lesson with the letter “p” with our then baby daughter. She loved saying the puh sound. So pink petunias were practically perfect.
Then it happened. Last year. I couldn’t buy petunias. I just couldn’t do it any more. I still love their colours. I still love the fact they love the sun and don’t mind if I forget to water them. We are a perfect match in many ways. But one.
Petunias don’t attract honeybees! Sad but true. Not enough pollen or nectar. And they don’t like red flowers generally.
I know this because over the 20 some years I had them, I actually never saw a bee. Which didn’t really bother me at first, ’cause the flowers were for my eyes, right?
I also know because they are NOT on any list of flowers that bees love. And I know this because I began to distribute bee flower lists with my candles and promotional materials. So here I was saying ‘do this’ but not walking the talk myself. Sigh… Big sigh.
So last year, I took my list and went to a local nursery. And bought flowering herbs instead. Something for the bees and something for our table. Here’s what I bought: thyme, sage, oregano and rosemary. Once planted I had to change my habits of watering them. Yikes! Previously, it was, ‘Well, whenever I remembered or felt like it or if I noticed it hadn’t rained in a while’.
Now it was ‘Check on them every other day’, ‘Feel the soil’, ‘Check their overall look – if droopy; water’. Things like this. Plus I noticed I was more interested in how the plants were doing generally. I noticed I began to feel more connection to these plants.
That one thing. So small. So seemingly casual.
My interest had a resonance in my soul that was unexpected. Practically invisible. A warmth that has stayed with me over the winter. And now I want to do more…perennials, native plants, lots of yellows, blues, purples, more herbs…find a local native plant nursery….So join me…if your heart moves you to reach out to the bees, the Earth. Just try it. Start with Love in your heart. And then, NOTICE.
Call to Action:
Whether this idea is new for you or you’re an experienced bee gardener, here’s my challenge to you: Add 6 more plants just for the bees this year! Why Six?
Six is a bee number..linking to their six-sided bee cells they make to hold their gifts of honey they so willingly give to us humans. But even 1 new bee plant makes a difference to your garden, the bees and your heart. Trust me!
The extreme challenges of the honeybees are now worldwide essentially. They need places they give them pollen and nectar from healthy (non-pesticide bred) plants. See if you can make the space for bees in the Love in your heart and move it into the garden. If you don’t have space for a garden, try a window box, or find a friend who has space. Ask for a garden space to become available for you.
Here are some resources, I have been pouring over the last two days, to help get you started:
www.uoguelph.ca/theportico/pollinators/grow/ This is a fairly long list of pollinator plants for (southwestern) Ontario
www.wildaboutgardening.org – this Canadian site includes an database to see if your choices are native plants in your area or not. For example, I found out Ontario has 332 native plants on this database and from there I looked for ones that were for pollinators.
www.themelissagarden.com – I adore this site. Here are their top 5 plants to support bees with nectar and pollen: borage, echium, melissa, goldenrod, phacelia. It’s a honeybee sanctuary in California. They have spent hours researching all kinds of plants (even ornamental flowers) for pollinators. What I discovered is that while California may not be your own hardiness zone; there are likely similar native species in your own area. So do check this site and don’t be put off by their geographic location. Oh and check out their ‘videos’ on getting up close and personal with their honeybees. The video on their ‘hanging basket’ style of beehive brought tears to my eyes – truly.
www.honeybeelives.org – has a great honeybee plant list for northeast US – also adaptable for your area. Check under Newsletters.
I also have a list of 18 Bee pasture plants from Biodynamic Literature. Email me and I would bee happy to forward you a copy.
Join me in taking up the challenge of planting your own bee garden! Let’s do it! Post your comments below!