We can help our bees thrive by planting bee-friendly gardens. Scroll down for information about:
* Plants yielding optimal levels of pollen & nectar
*Tips on how to plant seeds effectively
* Seed mixes without , which beekeepers may wish to avoid
*Lists of garden chemical products that contain neonicotinoids
* Alternatives to pesticides
Planting for Bees ~ Resources:
Checklists: Washington pollen/nectar plants
Click for Pollen / Nectar Plant Check List West of the Cascade Mountains (courtesy of Puget Sound Beekeepers);
For an east-of-Cascades checklist, click here. (Thanks to Franclyn Heinecke, WSBA Area 2 representative, for providing these 2 checklists.)
Click here for a video overview, Attracting Pollinators to Your Garden by Peaceful Valley Grow Organic.com.
Click here for "Pollinator Plants for Your Flowerbeds and Gardens (by Penny Longwell, Thurston County WSU Master Gardener, and Paul Longwell, Olympia Beekeepers; courtesy of Cecelia Boulais)
Click here to read "Bee Flowers," a PDF file of WSBA Vice President Charles Bennett's presentation identifying plants bees love that also do well in southwest Washington. He includes notes on how much pollen and honey the bees may be able to synthesize from them.
Don't Want Mosquitoes? Click here for a list of plants that repel mosquitos - but are good bee forage.
Tips on How to Plant Seeds & Keep A Bee Garden:
Those who want in-depth knowledge of gardening should visit with Lewis County Master Gardeners. Meanwhile, for those of us without a green thumb, click here for directions & tips on how to plant seeds effectively ~ from Burpee's Seeds.
* How to Plant Pollinator Wildflower Seed Mixes by Pierce County Beekeepers Association (includes step-by-step pictures)
Peaceful Valley Grow Organic.com Gardening Video Series:
This helpful series of how-to videos covers topics like selecting fruit trees, planting raised beds, growing organic sunflowers & other great bee forage, gardening in drought conditions, & much more. Click here to visit; complete URL: https://www.groworganic.com/organic-gardening/videos
Does Your Area Have Good Bee Forage?
Click here to read "Knowing the Neighborhood for Bees: Information and resources for new beekeepers to use to assess the forage area for stationary, year-round hives." (by Master Beekeeper Franclyn Heinecke)
For “Northern American nectar sources for honey bees,” a very thorough page on Wikipedia, click here. Complete URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_American_nectar_sources_for_honey_bees
Enjoy Cooking with Herbs? Bees Love Herbal Forage:
Bees will flock to common cooking herbs: basil, oregano, chives, thyme, parsley, mint, even lavender. Whether a substantial crop in a garden bed or a small bowl planter on your deck, bees will thank you for growing herbs. (Like to cook? Visit our Cooking with Honey page!)
An Argument for NOT Pulling Weeds:
"Why Honey Bees Need Weeds: They're Medicinal!": click here to read Franclyn Heinecke's Master Beekeeper paper on the crucial nutritional value of weeds for honey bees.
What's Being Done to Support Bee Forage in Washington State?
To learn what the Washington State Beekeeper’s Association and the Statewide Honey Bee Work Group are doing to address forage problems for honey bees in the state of Washington, click here.
Protecting Bees from Garden Pesticides
Pollination & Protecting Bees & Other Pollinators
Click here to read this 2015 WSU-Extension booklet by Dr. Timothy Lawrence, WSU-Island County Extension director & longtime beekeeper.
10 Ways to Protect Bees from Pesticides
Click here to read this WSDA pamphlet with great tips on how to protect bees & your garden! For more detail, see the Xerces Society's report, "Organic-Approved Pesticides: minimizing risks to bees."
Control Garden Pests without Killing Bees
“Less Toxic Insecticides,” from
Clemson University Cooperative Extension:
This site offers options like insecticidal soaps and organic approaches like essential oils that are “relatively safe to beneficial insects,” like honey bees. To read more, click here, or visit:
What pesticides contain neonicotinoids?
Neonicotinoids are infused into seeds & pervade the plant's vascular system, so that pests who feed on the plant are killed. When these pesticides were invented, the hope was that they would efficiently kill pests, limit the need for spraying, yet spare "beneficial insects" like honey bees. However, research has raised serious concerns about the effect of sub-lethal doses of neonicotinoids that bees take in through feeding on & storing nectar & pollen from affected plants. To learn more about the research, visit our Bees in the News page.
Click here for the Washington State Beekeepers' Association list of neonicotinoids & the popular insecticides that are infused with them.
Click here for the Center for Food Safety's list of common garden chemicals that contain neonicotinoids. Complete URL:
Click here for the California Department of Pesticide Regulation's list. Complete URL: http://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/registration/reevaluation/chemicals/niclistofproducts.pdf
Check the 2013 North Carolina Agricultural Chemicals Manual, published by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, N.C. State University, Raleigh, N.C. On the first few pages, they break down very helpfully what pesticides and chemicals are highly or moderately dangerous to honey bees. Click here, or visit http://ipm.ncsu.edu/agchem/5-toc.pdf
“Managing Tent Caterpillars without Chemicals”
A Washington Toxics Coalition Fact Sheet by David Johnson: the “Control Methods” section breaks options down into physical, biological, and chemical controls; the chemical controls can be harmful to bees, as they note, and the biological options may pose problems, too. To read it, click here or visit http://watoxics.org/files/tentcaterpillars.pdf
Above, "Apis mellifera & Lavandula angustifolia in Belgium (Hamois). [honey bee on lavender flowers]," by Luc Viatour / www.Lucnix.be. (License: CC BY-SA 3.0)
Above, "Apis mellifera (Bee) approaching by flying a Dandelion," by Guerin Nicolas (License: CC BY-SA 3.0)
Honey bees need forage, & wildflower fields are shrinking: above, "A field with wildflowers along Elkhead Road," by Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives Oregon Historical County Records Guide (license: CC-BY-2.0) See column at left for what Washington state is doing to support bee forage.
Above, Cornucopia: A Bounty of Bees (Extension.org);
Below, Facebook gardening meme:
Below, "Give Bees a Chance," from The Greens in the European Parliament homepage:
Above, honey bee on sunflower; below, bee on azaleas (photos by webmaster)