Conservation Notes: The Buzz on Bees

04/20/2010 07:59

Bees are vital to agriculture. Bees play a very important role by pollinating flowering plants. Many agricultural crops rely on bee pollination. The value of honey bee pollination to U.S. agriculture is 14.6 billion dollars annually. About 30% of all foods consumed are produced because of pollinating insects. 80% of insect crop pollination is accomplished by honey bees. The almond crop is completely dependent on pollination from honey bees. Without honey bees, there would be no almonds produced. Other crops are 90% dependent on honey bee pollination. Some of these crops include: apples, avocados, blueberries, cherries, cranberries and sunflowers. Many other fruits and vegetables are pollinated by bees.

Here are some tips to attract bees to your backyard:

  • Flowers blue, purple, yellow or white in color are appealing to bees
  • Provide pollen and nectar resources throughout the seasons with successive blooming flowers in the spring, summer and fall
  • Landscape with a variety of flowers, shrubs and trees
  • Plant ten or more plant species to attract the most bees
  • Plant flowers close in an area
  • Bees need a source of water nearby
  • If you have to use pesticides, apply at night when bees are not active

Herbs attract and are very appealing to bees. Chamomile, lavender, mint, oregano, sage and thyme are herbs that bees enjoy. Native plants also attract bees. Black Eyed Susan, Wild Bergamot, Ironweed, Butterfly Milkweed, Joe Pye Weed, New England Aster, Pale Purple Coneflower, Stiff Goldenrod, Prairie Blazing Star, Swamp Milkweed, Culver's Root and Mountain Mint are great examples. Many of these native plant species are enjoyed by butterflies as well.

The Henry County Soil and Water Conservation District is conducting its annual native plant sale on Friday, June 11, 2010. Over twenty native plant species will be sold. Some species include Butterfly Milkweed, Mountain Mint, Pale Purple Coneflower, Purple Prairie Clover and Smooth Blue Aster. Native plants in 2" by 4" plugs are $2 each, and native plants in one gallon pots are $5 each. Please contact Monica Stevens at the Henry County SWCD at 309.937.5263, extension 3 for more information about native plant species. Visit the website at for order forms or for more information regarding the native plant sale.

- Monica Stevens, Resource Conservationist