Wondering how you can attract and host bees in your garden?
PROVIDE POLLEN AND NECTAR SOURCES. Bees require nectar for their sugar energy source and pollen (which is high in protein) to feed their offspring. Making sure that you have a wide variety of blooming trees, shrubs, and herbs will ensure that your bees have plenty to eat during the spring and summer. This could include both native and non-native plants.
If you are located in the Pacific Northwest, here is a list of early blooming native plants that are beneficial to mason bees. For further reading, the University of Washington Herbarium has a comprehensive list of PNW native plants and their distributions and preferred growing conditions.
To make sure you have food available all throughout the mason bee’s life cycle, consult this plant list that includes both native and non-native plants that can thrive in your backyard and provide plentiful pollen sources.
NATIVE PLANTS are a great way to have low-maintenance plants in your garden that provide resources for your bees. Because they are native to your area, they will grow well your climate, provide erosion control, and habitat and food sources for all types of animals not just bees. Many areas have native plants sales in the spring and fall during ideal planting times. For the Pacific Northwest, here is a short list of the spring time plant sales for 2018. Consider attending to pick up your bees and add a few native shrubs, trees, or herbs to your garden.
DRINKING WATER is also essential for foraging bees. They will visit the dew on leaves, a small puddle, or a small bowl filled with rocks for them to perch on while they drink.
ENCOURAGE DIVERSITY. With over 4000 different species of bees in North America, providing a diversity of habitat and foraging options for bees is vital. The more types of flowers and nesting habitat you provide, the more species of bees your garden will attract. Tall grass, mouse holes, berry bush stands and dead wood can all encourage local bee populations to nest and forage in your yard. Remember, over 90% of our local bee species are solitary meaning they are incredibly docile and not likely to sting. The higher our bee populations, the healthier our ecosystems will be.