A few years ago, a swarm of bees took up residence in one of our wood duck boxes. I could stand mesmerized for long stretches of time watching them busily working flowers in our landscaping and vegetable gardens.
Did you know honeybees make a small slit at the base of some larger flowers and extract the nectar from outside the flower? This was my observation on hosta flowers. I was also surprised so see that most of the flowers in our landscaping, though they were beautiful and even fragrant, were not the least bit interesting to the bees.
Honeybees seem to get drunk in crocus flowers, rolling around in ecstasy inside, but daffodils and tulips sit undisturbed. This is because hybridizing and genetically selecting for specific traits in plants/flowers often results in poor or no nectar or pollen production, or these plant products are lacking critical nutrients the bees need.
Now that I have my own beehive, I plant with intention, and rely heavily on native plants I select from the little nursery around the corner that specializes in natives (Scioto Gardens) or from friends who are willing to share a little piece of their own gardens.
Want to see more bees? Check out this short home movie!
A beautiful plant native to Ohio that is effortless to grow and will spread quickly to choke out weeds. Mine came from Scioto Gardens, a wonderful local nursery run by Mike and Linda Johnson.
Scioto Gardens specializes in native Ohio plants and Mike is an extremely knowledgeable and personable horticulturist. Both Mike and his wife are big believers in holistic health and caring for the environment and our pollinators.
I always check Scioto Gardens first, and I prefer buying native plants because they’re hardier than hybrids and more likely to attract honeybees, butterflies and birds. When we hybridize plants, most often they no longer supply nectar or pollen needed by pollinators and hummingbirds.
Add to that the practice of spraying weeds (native plants that provide diverse nutrition AND nectar and pollen), and you can begin to see the problems faced by the honeybees.
About 5 years ago, my tomatoes and squash began to wilt, and eventually die. They looked to be suffering from thirst, and watering them helped, but did not reverse the wilting. I sent soil and plant samples to the extension office at OSU and was told there was nothing harmful in the soil and that the walnut tree that is approximately 100 feet from the garden was to blame.
I created another garden space further from the walnut tree, and the first year was a success, but the same issue surfaced the second year.
After much research and many failed attempts to rectify the issue, a friend who gardens told me of beneficial nematodes, a type of organism that feeds on soil-based pests.
Within one week of the first application, the problem began to reverse itself. Now I apply these “probiotics” to my garden every spring.