Small Gardens for Bees—and Hummingbirds

Bees on a sunflower

As you are planning your garden, think about not just food for humans but food for all of the creatures that you want to spend time in your garden. Even a small container garden on your porch can include a few flowering plants that will attract bees or even hummingbirds.

Focus on native plants. Local plants will be more attractive to your local bees. Look at this list of California bee-friendly plants by season for suggestions, but be sure to check with local gardeners or garden centers for the plants that will work best in your area.

Plant a variety. Gardens with a diversity of flowers are more attractive to bees. Be sure that your garden flowers throughout the season.

Think beyond flowers. The plants we think of as flowers aren’t the only plants the produce flowers. Many herbs have bee-friendly flowers. Even dandelions produce flowers that some bees like. You can let the bees have the flowers then get rid of the weeds before they go to seed.

Provide a drinking foundation. Bees are small, so you don’t need to provide more than just a jar lid of water for them. If you have a bird bath, they’ll stop by.

Go mulch-less. Mulch keeps moisture in the soil, but some bees nest in the ground. Too much mulch means no access to the soil. You don’t need to go completely mulch-less. Just keep in mind that it’s OK to let some of the soil go naked.

Or, create a bee nest. Find out about the bees in your area. Are they ground-nesting? If so, clear the ground. Are they cavity-nesting or wood-nesting? If so, add a small log or some other piece of wood with 1/4″ wide, 4″ long holes. The Xerces Society has more information on creating bee nests.

And, a bee shelter. Bees will stay in your garden if they can shelter from the weather. Shelter can be as simple as a densely planted area.

While you are creating a garden friendly for tiny creatures, consider planting for hummingbirds as well. There are only a few types of hummingbirds in Canada, but we might as well welcome them. Both bees and hummingbirds look for nectar plants, and wild plants produce more nectar than hybrids. Yet again, choosing native trees, vines, or flowers will work better than exotic species in the long run as you create a bee-friendly and hummingbird-friendly garden.

With the vanishing of the beesevery bee-friendly garden helps.

Image © Anthony Aneese Totah Jr |

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