Lifestyle

Get with the program: Help Feed the Bees

It’s not just honeybees: Pollinators of food plants include bumblebees, some wasps and bald-faced hornets (above). - Boaz Joseph / The Leader
It’s not just honeybees: Pollinators of food plants include bumblebees, some wasps and bald-faced hornets (above).
— image credit: Boaz Joseph / The Leader

For the past year, Delta’s Earthwise Society has been studying which perennials in its one-acre garden attract the most bees and pollinators, and the results are in.

A list of easy-to-source, easy-to-grow and easy-to-maintain plants is now available to help gardeners “Feed The Bees.”

The list includes plants such as Christmas rose, Oregon grape and chives.

“The purpose of the study was to comprise a resource list for local gardeners and farmers based on observations of which perennials attracted the most pollinators,” said Earthwise Society Executive Director and Feed The Bees Community Campaign co-chair Patricia Fleming. “The study clearly showed bees’ preference for specific species, and even cultivars.”

The Earthwise Garden is an ecological demonstration garden in Tsawwassen with more than 300 varieties of low-maintenance plantings, grown without the use of chemicals.

It is a companion to the Earthwise Farm, a two-acre organic teaching farm, operated by the non-profit Earthwise Society.

“We host two honeybee hives at Earthwise Farm and there is an additional hive on an adjacent property, along with mason bee houses on site,” said Fleming.

“The presence of so many pollinators close by presented an exceptional opportunity to study and record food preferences.”

Observations were made weekly from mid-May until mid-September 2011, and periodically thereafter (depending on the weather).

Feed The Bees Community Campaign co-chair Ian Tait said the results of the study will make it easy for individuals, businesses, organizations and governments to get on board and plant the right kind of plants to provide a continuous source of pollen and nectar throughout the growing season.

“When you consider that one out of every three spoonfuls of food we put in our mouths is dependant on a bee or pollinator, the Feed the Bees campaign is critically important to the agricultural community,” said Tait. “Also to food security, to our local, regional and national economies, and to our collective existence.”

When carefully selected, plants that attract bees can thrive in the home garden or farm.

Recommended plants are reliably perennial and, if properly sited, will perform well with minimal maintenance.

The Feed the Bees list includes recommends native plants, as well as other effective pollinator plants. The non-native species recommended are non-invasive and perform well locally.

The study “Bee Friendly Plants for Your Garden and Farm” can be downloaded through the Feed The Bees website, www.feedthebees.org/resources

Printed copies are available at the Earthwise Farm Store, 6400 3 Ave. in Tsawwassen.

Recommended plants are available at local nurseries or may be purchased directly from Earthwise Society.

Earthwise plants are grown without pesticides and taken from divisions from the Earthwise Garden.

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