Punch List: The buzz on bees in the garden

Home & Garden

Bee buzz

  • To bee or not to bee, there really is no question — bees are important for our gardens, crops and the world.
  • In Colorado, honey bees, bumble bees and native bees pollinate apples, pears, peaches, melons, cucumbers, sunflowers, squash and many more plants and crops.
  • Without honey bees we wouldn’t have almonds from California or mangoes from India.
  • Aug. 19 is National Honey Bee Day, so in their honor let’s give them (and all bees) the praise they deserve.
  • Honey bees are native to Asia and were imported to the United States about 400 years ago, arriving with the first Europeans. They are social and live in colonies year round.
  • Between 50 to 100 plants are visited by honey bees during one collection flight from the hive. Two million flowers must be visited to make one pound of honey.
  • Larger, fuzzy, heavy-bodied bumble bees are native to America. They establish a new colony every year, usually underground in abandoned rodent and bird nests.
  • On a flower, bumble bees vibrate — known as “buzz pollination” — so pollen lands on its body. This effective style makes them invaluable to the greenhouse industry for pepper and tomato pollination.
  • Most native or solitary bees, such as leafcutter, sweat bees, mason and digger bees, make nests in plant stems, rotten wood or some kind of burrow to rear their young in cells made of flower petals and leaves.
  • Native bees are gaining a bigger spotlight. They are very efficient pollinators for our native plants and vegetables. Read more on native bees: https://beesneeds.colorado.edu/introtonativebees.html
  • The dreaded Africanized honey bee with the mean stinger is unlikely to take up residence in Colorado.
  • People with bee allergies are probably not fond of any type of bee. In Colorado, however, about 90 percent of “bee stings” are from yellowjacket wasps.
  • Honey bees are not aggressive and do not attack when visiting flowers. They will sting when defending their colony, when caught in clothing or accidently stepped on.
  • A teachable moment for young people is to simply watch bees do their work and avoid getting in their way.
  • Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) among honey bees has been in the news since 2008 and is reducing their numbers. The cause of the disorder may be linked to insecticide use, parasites, mites, bacteria, or a virus. Research is ongoing for CCD.
  • Encourage more bee visits to your garden by growing daisies, marigolds, salvia, hyssop, blue mist spirea, bee balm, honeysuckle, cat mint, lavender, fruit trees and blooming shrubs. Bees love blue and purple flowers. A list of more plants for each type of bee: http://bspm.agsci.colostate.edu/files/2013/03/Bees-in-the-Garden-Handout.pdf
  • Many communities along the Front Range allow urban honey bee keeping to home owners. Check with your municipality for codes on keeping bees.
  • Beekeeping classes in Colorado: http://www.coloradobeekeepers.org/beekeeping-classes.html
    For a color guide of Colorado bees: http://www.applewoodseed.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Bees-in-the-Gardens-Colorado.pdf

In the landscape

    • Mid-August is the recommended last feeding time for roses. If they are repeat bloomers, fertilizer will help with their final flush of blooms.
    • Annoying fruit flies have arrived to enjoy your summer produce. Remove their hang outs and breeding spots. Regularly clean sinks and drains, keep garbage covered, toss overripe fruit and set out homemade baited traps.
    • An easy trap to leave on the counter: Fill a wide-mouthed glass jar with apple cider vinegar (no vinegar substitute) half to three-quarters full, add a couple drops of liquid soap, then fill with water until the soap bubbles reach the top of the jar. It should just take a day or two before they are gone.
    • Save the Date: Want to enter your delicious homegrown tomatoes in a tasting contest or learn which tomatoes taste best and grown next year? Come to the 2017 Taste of Tomato in Boulder on Sept. 9 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Gateway Park Fun Center at 4800 N. 28th St. Tomato seed-saving tips will be presented, along with experts on hand to answer all your tomato questions. For more information: http://www.harlequinsgardens.com/plants/edibles/vegetables/taste-of-tomato-2017/ or 303 678-6238.


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