North American bees and other pollinators are in a troubling state of decline due to environmental stressors, including but not limited to damage produced by spraying industrial pesticides on large-scale agriculture operations.
An estimated 80% of the world’s crops depend on pollination to be grown
The consequence of a compromised pollinator population has the potential to be dire, as an estimated 80% of the world’s crops depend on pollination to be grown. However, there are several common garden-variety plants one can cultivate that not only enrich life with their beautiful appearance and practical applications but also actively attract beneficial pollinators.
Lavender is known by its intoxicating aroma and has been utilized in almost innumerable ways; its emotionally relaxing qualities have made it popular as an ingredient in everything from soaps and shampoos to massage oils and herbal teas. The same fragrances that have made the plant so popular with humans are also very attractive to bees. Additionally rewarding is the fact that Lavender’s flowering period is in mid-summer, a time when generally fewer plants are in bloom and pollinators have fewer options to choose from.
Basil is a delicious aromatic herb heavily employed in many of the world’s great cuisines. It grows fast, requires little maintenance and emits attractive scents to pollinators. Basil requires very little space to be cultivated and is a common sight on many gardeners’ decks, desks, and windowsills. Some discipline is required to make the plant palatable to Bees – one must refrain from harvesting the tasteful leaves and allow the plant to flower.
Rosemary is another household culinary and cosmetic mainstay that will substantially enhance the appeal of one’s garden to bees. It can be quite easily planted, maintained and cared for. Rosemary has pest-resistant qualities and is effectively employed as a way to naturally deter pests from the rest of a garden. These qualities have endeared the plant to a long history of human use: there are mentions of the plant on cuneiform tablets dating back to 5000 BC.
Calendula (or Marigold)
Calendula has traditionally been employed for several therapeutic medicinal qualities and is quite popular as an ingredient in herbal salves and remedies as an agent to clarify and beautify the skin. Calendula’s flowers are hard to miss – they blossom in a radiant display of orange and yellow from June through September in temperate climates. Regularly trimming dead flowers from the plants can help extend the flowering season, subsequently extending the period of time the plant will be enticing to pollinators.
Garnished in dazzling blue blossoms, Borage has several unique qualities that endear it to being attractive to pollinators. The plant replenishes its nectar at an exceedingly rapid pace; this means that pollinators will be rewarded for their part in the natural exchange and be incentivized to return to the flowers more often. Characteristics like this have lent Borage several appropriate nicknames like Bee Bread & Bee flower. Similar to Rosemary, Borage can help repel harmful pests, and adds trace minerals to the soil it is planted in, subsequently increasing the overall health of the ecological community that it is part of.