I need to attract bees in a bad way

matchgripAugust 24, 2008

Hi all,

Been Googling around and everything points to "have flowers in your backyard" in order to attract bees to a vegetable garden. We do. We have roses, other flowering plants, we just bought a bunch of different flowering container plants and put them around the vegetable garden. We even put some hummingbird feeders around the vegetable garden because so many people complain about bees bothering those. We have a big patch of cucumber and squash flowers. We're getting almost no fruit on our plants because we don't have bees to pollinate. We don't use any pesticides so that's not it.

I'm at a loss and I don't know what else I can do. Is it reasonable to collect a few honey bees and let them go in the backyard? Would they find the flowers and hang around or just fly away? I live in a neighborhood so I can't really handle having a full blown hive in my yard as that might be too much? Or is that too much? Any help would be greatly appreciated... we have large beautful vegetable plants producing no fruit because we're missing bees.

Thanks so much!


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I have 5 hives in the backyard near the center of town, so it is possible. Cucumbers and squash should attract honey bees as well as many native pollinators. Sometimes it seems there are no bees, but it may be that there is an abundance of something that is more attractive and/or closer. They won't travel any further than they have to to find a good source of pollen or nectar.
Some flowers aren't attractive to honey bees. I've included a link to wikipedia's list of honey plants. Hope it helps. Tony

Here is a link that might be useful: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_honey_plants

    Bookmark   August 24, 2008 at 3:04PM
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I have twenty-three hives about fifty yards off my back porch and I have no problems with bees in the yard. None of my neighbors have noticed an increase in activity either. I'm the only person in the family who has been stung this year and I've only been stung three times.

Get a hive or two. Nobody will know it's there unless you tell them.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2008 at 7:34PM
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I love pollinators and have a single hive and the last thing I would do is discourage you from getting a hive. However, we should also be looking at environmental factors in your own area that could contribute to your lack of honeybees. Number 1 on my list would be weather. IN my area of new england, there was rain nearly every single day between mid JUly and mid August. An extended stretch of unseasonable weather could affect the bees' ability to forage widely, or plant devel0pment might be affected, blooming plants could be knocked down by a combination of rain and wind. So just for the heck of it, why don't we think of all the reasons you may not have many honeybees. Also, think of other pollinators who may or may not be around the garden. You should know I am a very new beekeeeper and seemed to have experienced more failures than successes. However , I feel pretty comfortable sticking my neck out in the midst of some very successful "growers".

    Bookmark   August 24, 2008 at 9:00PM
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Have you considered Mason bees? They will pollinate, but don't require the expense and time honey bees do. Plus, you can easily order them from a catalogue with all you need to have them in your yard.

Here is a link that might be useful: Mason Bee Info

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 2:08PM
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Here is a cute small hive. It may throw a couple swarms without room to expand,but that could help the local bee population.

Here is a link that might be useful: garden hive

    Bookmark   August 30, 2008 at 2:43PM
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protea_king(Western Cape)

Hey matchgrip, you mentioned buying flowers to try to entice bees. You're definitely on the right track, but its worth noting that many of todays modern plant cultivars have been bred for certain features such as double petals, etc. which for some reason often reduces the ability for bees to get to the nectar or pollen and/or minimizes the flowers scent thereby rendering the flowers unattractive to bees, this is especially true for roses (only the wild types are good for bees). Also many plants just aren't attractive to bees, I know they usually prefer white and yellow flowers over reds and blues (although this is not always the case eg. lavender). Herbs are generally some of the best plants to attract bees eg. mints, rosemary, origanum, marjoram, etc.
That failing, I'd recommend investing in a hive just to be on the safe side.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2008 at 3:26PM
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Any new cell phone masts or antennas in the area or too many old ones?


These could be behind your lack of bees.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2008 at 6:41PM
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Sometimes a water source could be a better attractant than a flower source. Put a pail of water out with something floating in it for the bees to stand on while getting a drink. A touch of clorox,just enough to make a smell,will help attract them if they are interested.Old water is also more attractive to bees than fresh from the faucet. My garden pond attracts a lot of bees.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 6:22AM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

Your kidding right blaze? in no way shape or form are cell phones and other radios responsible for the loss of bees. That all started as a hypothesis based on correlation (correlation does not equal causation, sea pirates are inversely proportional to global temperature) and it was supported by a channel ten action news type study. Bees cannot pick up the microwave radiation coming off of cell phones, and there is no correlation between cell phone use or tower density and colony survival once you correct for urban environments and rain fall (i.e. a field in Iowa with cell phone service has no fewer bees than a field in Iowa that does not).

Worrying about the unforeseen effects of technology is pragmatic, worrying about effects that have been conclusively shown to not exists in statistically significant amounts is a waste of time and energy.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 11:23AM
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kiddo_1(NE OH 5)

Hello. Just this year I've decided to turn my 1.25 acre property into bee and pollinator gardens. I'm making changes as to what I grow or, in some cases, how I grow. If you search on "honeybee sanctuary" you'll find The Melissa Garden. They have an extensive list of bee forage plants that will attract not only honeybees, but solitary bees and butterflies to your area. Putting over some of your garden bed to the 'less structured' sort of flowers will help these beleaguered little gals. One thing to note, The Melissa Garden's list seems to be slanted toward higher (warmer) zones. I'm aiming my forage plants toward my zone 5 area. Good luck. :-)

    Bookmark   December 8, 2008 at 4:25PM
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I see this is an old post, but I wanted to offer help anyway. Last year I had perennial Agastache Lavender Hyssop in my borders. It was like having my own hive. I was truly blown away by the number of bees it attracted. I harvested lots of seed, and will happy to send you some for postage. I would encourage you to check out the Winter Sowing forum for the best way to plant them. Now is the time. You may or may not have blooms this year, but next year you won't know what to do with all the bees. Plant a couple in your vegetable garden.

Email me if you want seeds for postage. I've already shared lots and will soon be sending all leftovers to the Winter Sowing newbie seed project.


    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 4:01PM
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