For the Love of Bees, Plant Native Seeds
Written for Edible Front Range This fall is a great time to plant wildflower seeds that will grow to nurture honeybees next year. Planting wildflowers is one small act that beautifies your landscape while also helping the bees and other pollinators. It’s not breaking news that the bee population has been dwindling across the United States. The suspected reasons are many: harmful pathogens, broad-spectrum pesticides, hybridized or exotic plants... the list goes on. No matter the cause of the declines, planting wildflowers is a simple way to invite bees back to your yard.
Wildflowers add a low-maintenance, simple elegance to a landscape. There are many native wildflowers to choose from—single varieties or mixes intended to be drought-tolerant, deer-resistant and honeybee friendly. Native plants and wildflowers suit indigenous wildlife without disrupting the balance of nature. Many hybridized and exotic plants don’t support bees’ basic needs of plenty of nectar and pollen.
Plant a wide variety of native flowers and plants that bloom in succession all summer. The greater the diversity, the more bees and wildlife your garden will attract. Leave a portion of your landscape unmanaged: no weed barrier, mulch or gravel—just soil and wild- flowers. No matter the size of your effort, the bees will find it and claim it as a feeding station.
Sow seeds after a couple heavy frosts, usually in November. Seeds lie dormant through the winter and germinate in the spring when the soil warms.
“Purchasing wildflowers from a Colorado company ensures you are getting the flowers that native bees and butterflies are attracted to,” says Mundy Miller, manager at Bath Garden Center and Nursery in Fort Collins. “We sell two great seed companies packaged in Colorado—Botanical Interest Seeds and Beauty Beyond Belief Seeds.”
Botanical Interest Seeds is a Broomfield-based company that packages more than 500 varieties of high-quality native and heirloom seeds, with a large selection of USDA Certified Organic seeds. Their seed packets are like mini-encyclopedias, complete with information about planting, growing, harvest methods and even recipes. The “Bee Happy” Seed Collection is a mix of borage, hyssop, lavender, bee balm and other species that attract and nurture bees. Use their website to search for flowers that are native, attract bees and have other important attributes.
Boulder’s Beauty Beyond Belief Seeds (BBB) is introducing a new mix this season called Honey Source Wildflower Mix. This wildflower mix was specially crafted with beekeepers and honey-makers in mind, as well as any gardener who wants to see honeybees thrive. It includes 19 bee favorites such as rockcress, China aster, Siberian wallflower and Rocky Mountain penstemon. BBB will donate 10% of sales of the new Honey Source mix to Project Apis m. (also known as PAm), a nonprofit named for the scientific name of the Western honeybee (Apis mellifera) and established by beekeepers and orchardists in 2006 to fund honeybee research on managed colonies.