Bees. Beautiful bees. Unfortunately, our buzzy friends are facing an uncertain future. Bee colonies are in trouble, and we don't really know why. In some parts of the world, the loss of honeybees are indicated is 'on the colony collapse'. A decline in bees affects every single one of us, being that our fuzzy friends are primary plant pollinators.
Bees are attracted to flowers. When feeding and collecting nectar, bees collect pollen from plants with their sticky legs. When they move onto the next plant, pollen rubs onto that flower, and thus pollinates the plant. A flowering plant makes fruit and vegetables. The cycle continues .. unless we have no bees (or birds, bats and butterflies) to pollinate.
You're probably wondering if there is anything you can do to help increase the bee population? On a larger scale, no you can't, but you might be able to attract bees to your Melbourne garden, by growing their favourite plants. More delicious food for our bee friends, can only be a good thing, right?
Here are 5 plants to help you attract bees to your Melbourne garden.
Lavender, although deliciously floral in smell, is actually a herb. Lavenders are high in nectar and are therefore very appealing to the bees of Melbourne. You can grow lavender from a seed, cuttings or existing plants. The best time to plant lavender in your Melbourne yard, is late spring or early summer when the weather is warm. Luckily, lavender is pretty hardy, and only requires watering once to twice a week.
Another herb, this time one that is favourite in the kitchen. Thyme needs a sunny, sheltered position in your yard. Although thyme doesn't do too well in humidity, it can withstand Victoria's wool winters to an extent. When thyme flowers into a gorgeous sea of pink and purple, your bee friends will be happy.
Bees like poppies, and why shouldn't they? Humans like them, too. Don't let the poppy's petals trick you into thinking these beautiful red flowers are fragile plants. Although the papaveraceae (poppy) plant that derives from North America and Eurasia, poppies are surprisingly hardy and easily grown. Poppies grow well in full sun, and in light well-drained soil.
Sunflowers are fun and easy to grow. Get your kids involved, and plant your sunflowers from a seed. It is actually better to plant your sunflower seed directly into the ground because they sprout and grow so quickly. It won't be long before bees can feast on your Queen of the Sun flower.
Back on the herb front, cilantro aka coriander, likes to live in sunny spots, with well-drained soil. They seed in summer, and remain leafy during winter, spring and autumn.
Have you seen a cilantro in flower? They bloom into a beautiful snowflake-like white flower; bees love them.
Support the beloved native Australian bee in your Melbourne yard, and you are contributing to a sustainable future.
Important side note Try to avoid using chemical treatment on your plants. Yes you want to attract bees to thriving flowering plants, but you won't want to damage the diminishing global population of bees.