In the Garden:
Pacific Northwest
April, 2013
Regional Report

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I enjoy sharing garden space with honeybees.

Create a Honeybee Haven

Honeybees are the most beneficial insects you can invite into your garden because they spend all spring and summer pollinating flowers. In fact, without bees, everyone would be eating mostly rice, wheat, and corn instead of the wonderful variety of fruits, nuts, and vegetables we grow in our gardens. Honeybees are truly remarkable garden companions.

While not everyone can be a backyard beekeeper, there are still many things you can do to encourage bee activity in your yard.

Honeybees' only requirements are food, water, and shelter. You can make sure there's an endless supply of food for them in the form of pollen and nectar by planting a variety of flowers throughout your landscape so there is always something in bloom. You can make water available by installing a birdbath or filling a pie pan with water and placing a square of window screen over the top. This will allow safe landings so the bees can sip to their heart's content. A garden full of a variety of plants, as opposed to a large expanse of lawn, will provide many spots that offer foraging bees protection from rain, wind, and cold.

It's important to provide a safe place for bees to visit. You can avoid harming the bees by being careful with pesticides. If you have to use them, spray when the bees are least active, which is late in the evening. Try to avoid spraying while the vegetables or fruits are in flower, watch out for drift onto other plants, and never use dust-type pesticides.

I know some gardeners are afraid of bees because of their potential to sting, and that's a real possibility if the bees feel threatened. But for decades I've worked in my garden when honeybees were present and have never had a problem with stings. If you move slowly and deliberately, bees will just get out of the way when you get too close to them, but if you move too quickly they may feel threatened enough to sting. If you respect the bees by giving them some space when you're sharing the garden, they'll reward you by pollinating the flowers in your yard, resulting in an abundance of fruits and vegetables to harvest.

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