Planting flowers for bees and other pollinators is the #1 way you can help both
honey bees and native bees!
Here is a quick snapshot of some great flowers that will grow here in Lethbridge and can be found at many of our garden centers:
Sibrerian Squill (scilla)
Mints (keep them contained as they will spread)
Thyme (both culinary and creeping)
Sunflowers (avoid “pollen-less” varieties, all others are great)
Trees & Shrubs:
Mountain ash (sorbus)
Wild Dog Rose
For more information, check out this Pollinator Planting Guide for the Moist Mixed Grasslands, developed by the Pollinator Partnership.
It is an excellent resource for planting for bees.
We also highly recommend Victory Gardens for Bees by Lori Wedienhammer, a tree Bee Enthusiast from BC.
Important Tips for Planting for Bees:
Plant in clumps or patches rather than rows or single flowers. This will make your flowers more attractive to bees.
Aim to have something blooming all season long, from early spring to late fall.
Choose drought-tolerant and/or native plants whenever possible.
Building little bee hotels is another way that you can help and encourage native bees!
Honey bees live together in hives but solitary bees, as their name suggests, live alone and need to find little nooks to stay and lay their eggs.
You can help encourage these kinds of bees to stay and pollinate your garden by creating little bee hotels with bamboo or pieces of wood.
Cut the bamboo so that you have many small pieces that they each have a little hole. Tie or glue them together. You can use a frame to keep them grouped nicely, or attach them into unique shapes.
If you don’t have bamboo, you can also use pieces of wood. Simply drill lots of different sized holes into it to encourage different bees to come visit your hotel.
When placing the hotel, make sure to keep it off the ground and put it in a place that you won’t need to move and disturb it. Bees navigate by landmarks, so moving the hotel could confuse them. Keeping it away from areas that you walk or frequent is a good idea as well to avoid unpleasant encounters.
Facing the little hotel in an eastern or southeastern direction will ensure that it gets morning sunshine and a bit of protection from winds and rain as well.
Bees can be a bit messy so make sure to check the hotel at the end of every year and clean out the holes of any remnants inside.
This will encourage new tenants to come and build their nests in your hotel next year.
If you would like more ideas and tips on how to make your bee hotel check out our Pinterest board for some great articles and examples.