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Planting for Bees

Planting for Bees

Bees don’t like every flower; they prefer certain plants and they prefer certain gardens. It is easy for Willamette Valley residents to help these insects find good things to eat in our yards and when we do the result is improved crops and flowers and an enhanced valley environment.

Bees feed on both nectar (a sugar-rich liquid) and pollen (a powder essential to the reproduction of many plants) and a diversity of sources is an asset to their general health. Guides from the Xerces Society, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Oregon State Extension Service list plants that attract and sustain bees, but often their lists are complex and intimidating.

So for the hesitant beginner, for those with mobility issues, for the overextended and the simply lazy, Salem Weekly provides a list of easy-care, no-fuss plants that successfully attract and sustain bees. The following are perennial (they come back unassisted, year after year) and often native. All supply both nectar and pollen, and many of them will spread to fit the space available.

Heather
Thyme
Lavender
Sage
Mint
Red and white clover
Oregon Grape
California Poppies
Catnip

A gardener with only these basic plants will significantly please the beneficial pollinators. Other considerations:

- Bees’ favorite flower colors are purple, blue, violet, white and yellow

– Native local plants are extremely appealing to bees

– Bees like their favorite plants clumped, perhaps in a parcel 4 feet across, rather than scattered among other greenery

– Different shaped flowers help bees with different tongue lengths reach food

– Pesticides… kill insects. Like bees. Xerces Society provides organic- approved pesticides that won’t decimate the important and cherished pollinator.

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