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Setting up a wildlife garden

Plants for butterflies

Plants for bees

Plants for hummingbirds

Plants for birds

Plant map

 

 

 

 

 

  Halictus ligatus on Erigeron  
  Halictus ligatus is a common sweat bee in gardens.  

 

There are hundreds of different bees that could visit your garden and they are the most important group of pollinators in Canada and N.E. USA. They are therefore valuable for both economic and ecological reasons. You can help bees by providing plants with nectar and pollen as well as appropriate nesting sites. Do not worry about the demise of the honey bee (which is not native) if you are growing vegetables. Many native bees work harder than honey bees and for longer hours. Please check out the recommended bee plants for a more detailed listing. Typically, only long-tongued bees or very small bees can access the nectar in tubular flowers while more open flowers support both short and long-tongued bees. Open flowers therefore encourage high bee densities. Flowers that are attractive to bees tend to produce concentrated hexose-rich nectar. While there are some very good nectar plants from exotic places, native plants support more diversity and are preferred in gardens for pollinators.

Bees tend to forage on the same type of plant on a particular trip so you have to plant in patches that are a minimum of 3 or 4 feet in diameter or distribute several specimens of a particular species throughout your garden to make a plant worth visiting. Bees may have to travel a fair distance to get to their source of pollen or nectar, so it is not efficient for them to make this trip to access a single plant.

  Bee regurgitates nectar  
  This Lassioglossum is regurgitating the nectar. Each time it does this, water evaporates out of the solution which lightens the load and makes the trip home more efficient.  

 

Avoid flowers that are genetically modified from the original native plant as they tend to produce less pollen and nectar. In particular, double-flowers are ineffective in pollinator gardens. Also, check that your garden store is selling plants that are not grown from seed treated with neonicotinoids. These chemicals are really harmful to all bees and in recent years have been used excessively in the horticultural sector.

  anthophora  
  Anthophora sp. have long tongues that can reach down into these Great Blue Lobelia flowers  

Most of the plants shown bloom from July onwards. While there are certain bees that are active in spring, there are more bees looking for nectar later on in the growing season than in the spring so your bee garden ought to become more floriferous as the summer progresses. Bees active in spring can be supported by planting trees that flower early in the season and some early season perennials. The plants listed below encourage high bee densities in gardens. Lots of flowers have been excluded because they are not suitable for gardens, not easily available, not native or only support a limited number of specialist bees. The pictures below are arranged according to when they start blooming.

 

  Penstemon digitalis Blephilia Veronica heliopsis
 
         
  Coreopsis Beebalm Echinace Virginia mountainmint
 
         
  Allium Agastache Rudbeckia nitida cupplant
         
  Calamintha nepeta lobelia Physostegia Joe Pye Weed
 
         
  Close up of Aster goldenrod Sunflower Caryopteris