Seeds for the Bees in the Prairies – planning your garden with bees in mind

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You may be an avid gardener, you may have nothing but a container to offer, or this may be your first act of cultivation. No matter where you are coming from, we hope that the information that we share with you here will help you integrate bee friendly plants in to your space!

The following information has been taken from our Little Books on Bees: Gardening for Bees publication. Available for purchase here on our website: http://www.backyardbees.ca/nativebees/ourpublications

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Planting Tips & Guides

The following sample gardens contain recommendations for native perennials. They are meant only as a starting point, feel free to let your imagination guide you. A list of recommended bee-friendly perennial, annual, native and non-native plants can be found in the Appendix and can help guide your vision. Keep in mind a few tips for creating and building your garden.

  • Start small, it’s cheaper and easier to complete with out becoming overwhelmed.
  • Before planting, ensure all weeds are cleared. Continued removal is necessary until plants are established.
  • Start with a good base of native perennials. Once established, they are hardier, require less maintenance and and are cheaper over time.
  • Avoid double-flowered varieties, they can be tricky for bees to access their nectar.
  • Either seeds or transplants can be used. Seeds are cheaper and sometimes more readily available, but transplants are hardier, easier to establish and often bloom the first season.
  • If transplanting, prepare soil around hole and water frequently until the plant is established.
  • Scatter seeds over bare soil and water well. Cover with a thin fabric until seedlings have taken root. This will help protect from birds and heavy rainfall. Only 30% of seeds will become established plants.
  • Ask your supplier about pesticide use as some can remain in the plant for years.

Top 12 Plants for Bees:

In natural habitats, bees and other pollinators may have access to 50 to 100 different plant species. However, it is not necessary to provide quite this level of variety. Studies have shown that between 10 and 20 different plants will provide a suitable amount of diversity to cater to a range of bees. This following list includes a selection of the most widely recommended plants for attracting bees that are both native to Alberta and readily available from local suppliers.

Spring Blooming

  • Prairie Crocus
  • Smooth blue beard tongue
  • Milkvetch
  • Summer Blooming
  • Wild bergamot, Bee-balm
  • Alpine Hdysarum
  • Fleabane
  • Lupine
  • Late Summer/Early Fall Blooming
  • Prairie Goldenrod
  • Aster (laevis, pansus or puniceus)
  • Purple Coneflower

How you can learn more? Apiaries and Bees for Communities offers outstanding educational experiences to inform and inspire acts of pollinator stewardship. We are dedicated to the resilient management of honey bees and pollinator guardianship. We offer exceptional programming to rekindle your childlike wonder with the natural world. Our programming, key note speaking and beehive partnerships endeavour to Build the Hive Mentality within communities across Canada.

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