Did you know that a garden that's good for butterflies is also good for other pollinators such as bees and hummingbirds who often share the same nectar plants and utilize the same habitat? And, Watermelons, cantaloupes, cucumbers, pumpkins, eggplant, hot peppers, and gourds all must have bees to pollinate them. Even tomatoes, while self-pollinating, will have better fruit and seed set when their flowers are vibrated by visiting bees. When you think about the future of the human race, bees should be in the forefront of your mind. Without bees and their pollination efforts, we are all in peril.
Pollination is an essential part of the web of life, and nowhere is it a more essential than when growing our food. Honeybees and bumblebees (and to a lesser extent, native bees) are key players in a successful vegetable harvest. And, it’s especially important in urban and suburban areas—where honeybee hives may be few and far between—that we make an effort to feed them by planting flowers. So, what can we do to help ensure we will have great harvests for years to come? The answer is really pretty simple...
By planting a succession of flowers to bloom from early spring to fall in our yards and near the vegetable garden, we help to build the honeybee population and keep them around for the whole growing season. This is of particular importance from mid-summer into fall when the majority of the pollinator-dependent veggies are in flower. We can get this done with a nice mix of annuals, perennials and culinary herbs. The key is to plant flowers, lots of flowers that bloom over a long time in the growing season to complete the web of life in your yard and garden. That first juicy tomato of the season will tell you it is worth the effort.
For a lot more specific information on what to plant regionally to support native butterfly populations in your garden and landscape, contact the Xerces Society. They are a nonprofit organization that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates (insects) and their habitat. For over forty years, the Society has been at the forefront of invertebrate protection worldwide, harnessing the knowledge of scientists and the enthusiasm of citizens to implement conservation programs.
The society has just published an excellent new book:
"Attracting Native Pollinators: Protecting North America’s Bees and Butterflies" which is available on their website: http://www.xerces.org.
Until next time...