Connecting Greater Phoenix gardeners with information that helps put xeriscape principles into action.

Gardening Tip: Attracting Bees for Pollination

Bee Pollinating a Sunflower

Image Credit: San Francisco State Universy

Just this week, there were two more studies out of the UK and France showing that the mystery of the disappearing bees, known as Colony Collapse Disorder, can be linked to a relatively new class of insecticides called neonicotinoids.  This is important because bees are critical to pollinating not only flowers, but many food crops as well.  Fewer bees means fewer yields.

So what’s the best way to attract bees to your Phoenix desert garden?

  • Limit your use of (or don’t use) insectides in the landscape.  Identify the plant and the problem and then do a little research to figure out how to manage diseases and pests without resorting to pesticides.  The solution is often a lot simpler than you think!
  • Plant a wide variety of plants.  Bees and other pollinators love flowers, so plant a variety of flowering plants to ensure near year-round blooming.
  • Plant native xeriscape plants.  Native species are four times more likely to attract bees and other pollinators than non-natives or exotics.  I noticed this in my own garden when we removed the grass and planted a few native shrubs.  Nearly overnight we had more birds, bees, and butterflies in our garden!
  • Create a habitat that’s friendly to bees.  Bees like shallow pools of water, but if you’re really ambitious, you can build a nesting area for them.  Invite them in to stay awhile!



The Importance of Bees in Xeriscapes

The news has been dire for a while: Bees are diminishing at an alarming rate, and since they are vital to crops and other plant forms—not to mention they produce sweet, sweet honey—it is important for all of us to care for their environment. This could mean everything from driving less in order to reduce green-house gasses to forgoing use of pesticides in our gardens.

It has been reported that bees are responsible for pollinating 30% of our food crops(1) and without them our food supply would be cut dangerously low. No one needs to spell out the consequences of such dire conditions, but it is worthwhile to think of the lowly little bee as we go about our day.

So the next time you are out in the garden and you hear the familiar buzz of our old friend The Bee, stop and watch him work—remember he’s doing it all that for you. Then, lean in and whisper, “thank you.”