PLANT A BEE GARDEN
One way to help is to plant a pollinator garden to provide forage for honey bees and native pollinators. We have many local nurseries selling neonicotinoid-free plants to help get you started:
Pollinator plants our PCBA members recommend for attracting the most bees. These offer the best nectar and pollen sources, and are easy to grow. Focus on plants that bloom from August to May — late Fall/Winter through early Spring when food sources are scarce. Plant all cold season blooming plants in full sun to maximize bee visit time.
- Allium — Ornamental Onion
- Colchicum autumnale– Autumn Crocus
- Crocus tommasinianus– Tommasini’s Crocus
- Borage (Hint: Plant Borage plants between tomato plants to improve tomato pollination.)
- Chives (allow to flower)
- Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Arp’ — Rosemary
- Caryopteris x clandonensis ‘Dark Night’– Bluebeard
- Ceanothus ‘Victoria’– Califorinia lilac
- Erica × darleyensis ‘Kramer’s Rote’– Darley heath
- Mahonia x media ‘Charity’, Mahonia x media ‘Arthur Menzies’, Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’
- Mahonia nervosa — Cascade Oregon Grape
- Pieris japonica — Lily of the Valley Shrub
- Pieris japonica ‘White Cascade’ — Lily of the Valley Shrub
- Pieris japonica ‘Variegata’ — Variegated Lily of the Valley Shrub
- Pieris japonica ‘Cavatine’– Dwarf Lily of the Valley Shrub
- Tilia cordata — Little Leaf Linden Tree (aka Basswood, Bee-Tree)
- Bees on Cornus mas Cornelian Cherry Tree YouTube Video
- Black Gum Tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica), aka Black Tupelo or Blackgum
Some of the best nectar and pollen sources for bees are weeds. Plus they are the easiest to grow! Leave clover and dandelion weeds in your lawn. Blackberries are the source of the main nectar flow for honey in Pierce County.
- Cirsium arvense — Canada Thistle
- Epilobium angustifolium — Fireweed
- Rubus armeniacus and laciniatus — Himalayan and Evergreen Blackberry
- Taraxacum officinale — Dandelion
MAKE YOUR YARD A BEE OASIS
You don’t have to be a beekeeper to help honey bees and native pollinators. You can simply change a few habits around your yard. A well manicured lawn of rich green grass, beauty bark, and a few flowers may look nice to you, but from a bee’s perspective it is a desert with little food or nutrition.
- Add more native plants that thrive in our area. Native plants will be more hardy and require less maintenance.
- Plant more fruits, vegetables, and herbs. In addition to giving you food, they provide pollen and nectar.
- Diversify your plants to bloom at different times of the year. Provide a source of nectar and pollen all season long.
MANAGE YOUR PESTICIDE USE
It may be hard if not impossible to completely avoid pesticides. There are some pests that do quite a bit of damage to our gardens. But we can be smarter about how we use pesticides.
- Avoid “broad spectrum” pesticides. These will indiscriminately kill everything they come into contact with.
- Use targeted pesticides. If you feel you absolutely have to use a pesticide, use one the selectively focuses on your specific problem you are trying to solve.
- Apply pesticides wisely. It’s best to apply them in the early morning or late evening when bees and other beneficial insects are not active so they can avoid getting hit with direct exposure.
- Use natural predators. The best way to eliminate pests is to encourage or introduce natural predators. One example is the lady bug that will eat aphids, mites, white flies, and scale insects.
Go for balance in your garden. A healthy garden will have an entire ecosystem of critters that keep things under control.
What chemicals are specifically bad for bees? Read more from the Xerces Society, a leading nonprofit organization focused on conservation of invertebrates and their habitat.
BUY LOCAL HONEY
Help take care of the bees by directly supporting those who dedicate their time and work to the art of beekeeping. Check out your local farmers market or any of the vendors below to purchase honey and/or honey products.
- PCBA Fair Booths – PCBA sells honey at the WA State Fair (both Spring and Fall)
- Robbins Honey Farm – Lakewood, 253-588-7033
- Sunny Bee Honey Farm – Auburn, 253-951-2687
- Mountain Rain Bee Products – Edgewood, 253-826-3103
- Schaffer’s Honey Bee Farms – Kent, 253-315-5084
- Miller Compound Honey Bees & Agriculture, LLC – 253-843-1319
- Dolce Bella Bees Premium Artisan Honey – 253-380-2327
PARTICIPATE IN THE GREAT SUNFLOWER COUNT PROJECT
- Plant lemon queen sunflower seeds. Please check to make sure that the seeds did not receive a neonicotinoid seed treatment. One way to do this is to buy an organic seed. If not organic, check to make sure the seeds weren’t treated with pesticides.
- Submit at least 3 pollinator counts of at least 5 minutes duration to the Great Sunflower Count website. Having more than one count at your site will ensure the most accurate estimate of pollinator service at your site.