Green living: Save Our Earth By Living Green

Trees Best for Attracting Honey Bees

There has been a lot of press over the past few years about the decline of the honeybee and the trickle down effect it can have on everything in our ecosystem.  But what can we do as humans?  We don’t fully understand why whole colonies of bees perish or abandon their hives.  Scientists have been studying it to understand this phenomenon, and so far they are coming up short.  The bees continue to face disease and habitat issues, which has reduced their populations dramatically.

Honey Bees

Many people have taken up bee hiving as a hobby, putting hives up in their yards or orchards.  However, not everybody has the means or space to properly care for their bees and have taken to adding flowers and plants to their gardens to attract honeybees.  But is there more you can do other than just flowers?  Of course!  You can look at bushes, shrubs and trees that not only attract honey bees, and they can also function as an excellent nesting habitat and foraging opportunity for them.

When selecting your trees, shrubs and hedges, you will want to look for those with long bloom cycles to encourage the bees to continue coming back.  You will want to incorporate some wildflowers among your garden, and try to group similar plants together to give them adequate foraging.  As for trees, you want to put different types of trees in your yard for better cross-pollination, which helps your trees produce fruit.

When considering which trees you want to incorporate to your landscape to attract bees to you, consider the ones that produce the largest amounts of flowers.  Some of the best trees you can select to attract the bees to your yard and landscape include the following:

  • Flowering fruit trees of all varieties:  wild cherries, sour cherries, Yoshino cherries, bird cherries, and other cherry varieties, all different types of apples, pears, plums, oranges, peaches and apricots.  Crabapples, lemons and limes.  Apples and cherries will encourage the bees to your yard the most during the summer months.  Many plums, peaches and apricots attract the bees mostly during the late summer to early fall.
  •    Maples, oaks, mesquites, oaks and willow trees
  •    Some nut trees like hybrid hazelnuts
  •    Basswood, sourwood, crape myrtle and little leaf lindens

You will also want to provide a ‘bee bath’ or some sort of fresh water source.  This can be a bird bath, a dripping hose with a shallow dish to collect water, a waterfall or other water feature in the year, or really just about anything with fresh water for the bees to drink.  If you can avoid the use of pesticides or other chemicals it will be better for the bees, as well.  Why try to attract bees to your garden only to poison them with some toxic chemical?

Though it may seem counter intuitive to you, consider leaving some of those pesky weeds to flourish under your trees.  Weeds such as milkweed, closers and dandelions can be an important food source for your bees.  Allowing them to grow uninhibited will encourage the bees to stick around and cross pollinate your trees, giving them a greater opportunity to grow fruit.  This is a good thing not only for the health of the bee colonies, but also for the fruit product of your trees (which is one of the main reasons you will want fruit trees to begin with).  So build some foraging grounds for your playful little bees and encourage them to hang around your yard.  You will get enjoyment watching them buzz around while they assist you in many ways unique to bees.

Stewart Scott is a certified arborist and is the owner of Cevet Tree Care, where he offers the best tree service Columbia MO has to offer. Cevet has provided tree trimming and other tree care services to mid-Missouri for almost 20 years.

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