Contributed by Maria Cannon

Bees, unfortunately, are disappearing at a rapid rate. Those of us who are already gardeners are doing our part in helping to solve the problem by growing bee-friendly plants. The Honey Bee Conservancy offers some tips for those who are not aware of what makes a garden attractive to pollinators like bees. Bee-friendly gardening is a year-round task, and with fall approaching, it’s important to prepare.

Why Bees are So Important

The Natural Resources Defense Council offers some statistics and facts that show just how important human-bee relations are. Bees’ primary benefit to humans is through the pollination of crops that result in nutrient-rich foods. Bees extract nectar from plants, and as they go from plant to plant, they leave pollen that allows the plant to bloom and, in many cases, yield crops.

But, as global research documents, the bees are not alright. They are disappearing and dying at an alarming rate, so catering to bees is more pressing than ever before. This includes attracting them to your garden year-round, so knowing how to prepare a garden for fall without losing its bee residents is key.

Winterizing Your Garden

HGTV offers some tips for winter green-thumbs. They recommend weeding and laying down mulch, as well as tying plants to support sticks with natural fibers. This will help discourage wilting as the weather intensifies. They also recommend adding extra compost and peat moss, as plants can use as many nutrients as possible when the weather turns.

Helping the Bees Make it Through the Season

The primary way that gardeners can ensure bees make it through the winter season is by planting species of vegetation that will bloom during these cool months. British Columbia Farms and Food lists several species of flowers that will attract bees through the winter. They include rosemary, primrose, heather, calendula, crocus, and others.

This guide is helpful, but every region is a bit different. Talk to local nurseries and gardening experts to find which species are most likely to thrive in your particular region, and get to planting before fall arrives. According to Redfin.com, "The right plants will please you, flourish in your climate, attract local insects and wildlife, and won’t take too much time to maintain."

Conclusion

Bees and gardening are like peanut butter and jelly. Bees extract food from plants, and in the process of doing so, they spread flowers’ seeds and help to ensure that plants make it to bloom. Planting species that cater to bees is a win-win, the perfect combination of beauty and practicality. It’s in gardeners’ self-interest to keep bees around throughout the changing seasons. With bees dying and disappearing, they are doing the bees a great service by planting plants that attract and feed them even through the cooler months.