Book Review: The Bee Friendly Garden

Today was cold and rainy, typical of March. While I was able to till up a small spot and put in a few sugar snap peas and lettuce seeds, it sure feels like spring is a long time off. I am longing for warm days, bare feet, and sunshine. I can’t wait to dig in the dirt and smell the lovely, springtime, outdoors smell on the breeze.

So, true to form, when I get to feeling these longings for spring, I come in the house, curl up on the couch and grab a book. This week’s selection helped stoke my enthusiasm for planting stuff for the spring. This week, I’m looking at The Bee Friendly Garden by Kate Frey and Gretchen LeBuhn.

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The Bee Friendly Garden is a complete compendium for gardeners who want to make their yards a haven for bees. And, unlike many “bee books,” this one is not just about honey bees. This book discusses many of the more than 4,000 native species of bees in the United States. They all have distinctive appearances, nests, breeding cycles, and habits. Of course, the honeybee is mentioned, but no more than the other native bees in the garden. This book encourages you to not only plant the flowers, but to sit and watch the bees as they come to visit your garden. Each bee behaves somewhat differently from the others, and the most common ones are described, complete with full color photographs.

Along with interesting descriptions of the bees, the Bee Friendly Garden also walks both experienced gardeners and complete newcomers through the process of planning a garden that is both attractive to humans and to bees. If you want a garden that will draw the bees, here are a few tips from The Bee Friendly Garden.

  • Avoid pesticides by using native plants that are resistant to pests.
  • Plan your garden so that something is always in bloom.
  • Choose plants with open-cup flowers, like the blooms of poppies and buttercups to provide easy access for the bees.
  • Leave areas of open ground so that ground-nesting bees can dig their burrows.

Interestingly, I found that many of the things that I am already doing in the garden are helping the bees. I also found out the names of many of the bees that I’ve noticed on my plants.

The authors point out that many typical suburban landscapes with nothing but a grassy lawn and boring, non-blooming shrubs are like deserts for bees. However, the authors don’t just fuss about these landscapes. They describe exactly how one can overhaul an existing landscape to attract more pollinators. Even if you are not interested in digging up your whole front lawn and replanting it with bee-friendly plants, the authors offer many practical, workable, inexpensive ways to help the bee population in your area.

The appendices at the end of the book provide much helpful information, including addresses of bee-friendly, organic nurseries, plant charts divided by geographical location, book recommendations, and even some fun, interesting gardening projects for kids and adults alike.

I did receive this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review, but all of my opinions are my own. I feel that the book would be an excellent addition to your gardening library.

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