If you’ve heard of pollinator gardens, you probably understand that bees around the world are in danger. Over the past decades, bees have been mysteriously dying and disappearing, leaving hives empty and beekeepers scratching their heads. But bee die-off is a problem for more than beekeepers and lovers of honey; bees are a big part of the world’s food system, and their declining population poses a big threat to global food security.
Planting a pollinator garden is a great way to provide habitat for important bee species, but saving the bees isn’t the only benefit of a backyard pollinator garden. Here are five other perks you’ll enjoy when you invest in a bee-friendly backyard.
- It Will Improve Your Vegetable Garden
If you have a kitchen garden, you could enjoy a big boost to fruit and vegetable yields when you add a pollinator garden to your yard. When bees visit blooming plants, they’re doing more than having a bite to eat. They’re transferring pollen from flower to flower so plants can grow delicious fruit. Some fruits and vegetables, including cucumbers and squash, can’t produce a crop unless pollinated by an insect. Self-pollinating plants like peppers, tomatoes, and okra can produce fruit without the help of pollinators, but a visit from a foraging bee increases your bounty.
- It’s a Great Educational Tool
Building a bee-friendly garden is a fun project for adults, and it’s also a wonderful way to promote an early love of science and bond with kids. Parents and children can discuss flower structure, plant reproduction, and insect behavior while watching bees forage in the garden. Children can implement experiments to discover bees’ favorite flower color or help construct houses for different types of bees.
- It Cleans Your Air
All plants consume carbon dioxide and produce oxygen during photosynthesis. And while plants consume oxygen and produce carbon dioxide at night, they create about ten times more oxygen than they use.
Perhaps you know this because you’ve filled your home with air-cleaning plants, but installing plants outside the home can contribute to a cleaner environment as well. Plants absorb harmful pollutants through their leaves and roots, removing them from the air, soil, and water around them. This means that planting a garden does more than make your home beautiful; it makes your home safer for your family too.
- It Controls Unwanted Insects
If you’re having trouble with nuisance insects in your yard, a pollinator garden might be the solution you’re looking for. Gardens designed to attract pollinators are incredibly diverse, as they must have plants of different colors, shapes, and sizes flowering three seasons out of the year. And it just so happens that incorporating biodiversity is one of the best ways to manage pests in your yard. The birds, bugs, and even bats that your garden attracts will eat problem bugs while the diverse assortment of plant life will help ensure that no single pest takes over.
- It Makes You Happier
Gardening is more than a fun pastime; it can even be good for your mental health. Gardening can relieve your stress and reduce the risk of depression and anxiety, thanks to the benefits of moderate exercise and the restorative nature of natural settings. And when you grow the garden yourself, your brain experiences a serotonin boost from a beneficial soil bacterium known as Mycobacterium vaccae.
While any sort of garden can improve your mood, a pollinator garden is a great entry point for beginning gardeners who don’t quite have a green thumb. Pollinator gardens typically use native plants, which are adapted to the specific climate they’re grown in and require little care to thrive.
To get started, spend a little time researching native plants and other flowers that bees like. Turn to your local garden center for organically-grown plants and advice on planting times and garden care. Your garden might take a couple of seasons to truly flourish, but once it does, your yard will be buzzing with natural beauty for years to come. Check out HomeAdvisor.com for more tips on how to build the perfect garden.
Author: Christy Erickson (SavingOurBees.org)
Image via Pixabay