As of Monday, August 6, 2018
It is commonly known that honey bee populations are on the decline.
Honey bees are essential to gardens. They are significant pollinators.
Planting flowering trees and bright flowers will help attract bees to keep your garden healthy,
Though other insects pollinate plants, bees do it all day every day.
“The term ‘busy bees’ comes to mind, and it’s true, it’s their life’s work” Dr. David James, an entomologist at Washington State University.
Without pollinators like honey bees, fruit would not grow, and most plants will not reproduce, according to James.
Home garden plants that are affected most by bees are fruit trees like peaches and vine crops like cucumbers, squash, and watermelons, according to Jeff Lunden a beekeeper and Farm and Facilities Manager at Washington State University.
Any plants with a lot of nectar are the best at attracting bees. Highly bred flowers like commercial roses do not attract bees as well because they do not have much nectar or do not smell attractive to bees, according to James.
“Nectar and pollen are what attracts bees,” Dan Massey of Hibbard, Massey, and Hibbard, a beekeeping business in Grandview.
“Bees go for things that are sweet, the more fragrant the better,” a spokesman from Bailey Nurseries.
Some flowers that Bailey Nurseries suggests are dianthus or carnations. Sunflowers are also great for bees according to Massey.
“The best colors to attract bees are purple, blue, violet, white and yellow,” Massey said, “So is growing a variety of flowers next to each other.
“Bees are oriented to color,” Lunden said.
There are several theories that account for the current decline in bee populations. Dr. James believes that it is a combination of several things. The use of neonicotinoids, a pesticide, seems to coincide with the decline, according to James.
It is believed that the pesticides cause the bees to alter their behavior and disorient them.
It is believed that pesticides can be sub-lethal to bees in that it hinders their ability to orient and make their way back to the hive, according to Lunden.
“Pesticides are very important for growing, but you have to be careful. It’s like a hammer, don’t get your thumb in the way,” Lunden said.
The best time to spray is in the evening or early in the morning when the bees aren’t flying, according to both Lunden and Massey.