Bees & Landscaping

Bees are a vital part of the landscape, contributing to this cycle of many plants’ lives by pollinating flowers. Although honeybees are the best known of the mammals, tens of tens of thousands of native mammals can also be included in this vital task. Like butterflies, the task that bees do isn’t glamorous, but it’s crucial for many plants to produce fertile seed.

Bees Are Beneficial

Bees don’t hurt plants, nor do they vector plant disorders, therefore they are always considered advantageous. They are usually harmless to humans, except in the case of humans with bee sting allergy symptoms. Nevertheless, bees don’t sting except as a last resort because they get only one chance at it — following stinging, their barbed stinger pulls from their body, causing their death. Unlike wasps, bees are not aggressive, as a rule of thumb.

Bees and Mulch

You most likely use mulches to smother weeds and retain soil moisture. But if you are seeking to attract native mammals, then mulch may be a deterrent. Many bees dig out cavities in the ground for their nests, but they need bare dirt for these structures. Anywhere on your landscape that has been mulched discourages ground-nesting bees. If you are searching to attract more native bees to your landscape, leave a few mulch-free areas of bare dirt.

Bee-Attracting Landscapes

Although a lot of plants attract bees, it’s often the way that they’re implanted that gets this pollinator’s interest. Bee-friendly gardens contain an assortment of plants that flower throughout the season in a range of colors. Spring-flowering bee favorites include California poppies (Eschscholzia californica), lavender (Lavandula spp.) , sages (Salvia spp.) and verbena (Verbena spp.) . For summertime shade, try cosmos (Cosmos spp.) , coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea), garden squash and pumpkins, sunflowers (Helianthus annuus), black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta) or pincushion flowers (Scabiosa atropurpurea).

Africanized Bees

Africanized bees entered the U.S. during Texas and have been expanding outward because the early 1990s. They are known to have reached as far as California, making them a danger to many homeowners. Although their aggressiveness is somewhat over-hyped, these bees can be deadly if their kittens are disturbed. If you suspect that excessively aggressive Africanized honey bees have invaded your landscape, call an exterminator or the local university extension instantly.

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