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One of the joys of summertime is seeing colorful butterflies in the garden. After spending some time researching whether bees are attracted to butterfly gardens, I found a lot of useful information and decided to condense it into this article.
To answer the question, butterfly gardens do attract bees. Both bees and butterflies are pollinators; therefore, they require easy access to the nectar and pollen they get from flowers. Basically, the easier it is for a bee to find the pollen and nectar of a flower, the more likely they are to visit your butterfly garden.
The flowering plants in a butterfly garden are also beautiful to bees. However, it is important to be aware of the specific types of flowers that these insects like. We will be talking about those flowers today, so read on and find out!
Why bees are attracted to butterfly gardens
In this section, I will take a closer look at the reasons bees love butterfly gardens.
Ultimately, butterflies and bees are looking for the same things – food, water, and shelter. Pollen and nectar-rich plants are what both of these insects are desirous of. There are also other factors and measures which can further attract bees into a butterfly garden.
The number one reason that a butterfly garden will attract bees is the variety of plants and flowers.
To understand this attraction, it’s important to consider the interdependent nature of the relationship between bees and plants, which is equally beneficial for both.
Plants adaption to bees and butterfly needs
Plants rely on butterflies, bees, and other insects for their reproduction and survival. They have therefore adapted and evolved to become more attractive to insects. Bees are drawn to open or flat tubular flowers.
The bright colors coupled with the flower’s sweet scent lure the bees in.
Nature promotes mutualism. The flower nourishes the bee. The river waters quench the thirst of all living beings. And trees provide a welcoming home to so many birds and animals. There is a rhythm to this togetherness.Ram Nath Kovind
Similarly, butterflies are energized by nectar and are attracted to flowers. They also pick up the flower’s pollen whilst feeding on its nectar, and then when they move on, they carry the pollen and help it reproduce.
Both butterflies and bees are attracted to flowers for very similar reasons, so it makes perfect sense that a butterfly garden would be an inviting place for a bee flying by.
Relationship of bees and butterflies with flowering plants
Like all life forms on the planet, bees and butterflies are doing everything they can to ensure their survival and the well-being of their species.
The flowers in a butterfly garden provide worker bees with a way to gather enough pollen and nectar to feed the other colony members and the larvae, similar to how butterflies also use flowers to gather food for their offspring.
Pollination is always a process that we as gardeners want to aid the plants in thriving and coexist in this system. Not only is it fascinating to watch bees flying around and landing on flowers in a butterfly garden, but it is also very beneficial to the overall ecosystem and the survival of the insects and plants.
The plants which attract bees that you can add to your butterfly garden
As long as the flower provides nectar and pollen, bees will be attracted to them.
There are, however, certain plants that make the attraction even stronger. Below, I have listed some of the plants which bees love to find the most in a butterfly garden and why.
Look into having single flower plants in your butterfly garden for the bees
Double flowers aren’t beautiful to bees.
Double flowers are so crowded with petals that the bees struggle to reach the nectar and pollen at the center of the flower.
Many dahlias are single-flowered, and these will be sure to encourage bees.
Purple flowers can definitely attract bees in your butterfly garden
Purple is the most visible color to bees, so it makes sense that they would be attracted to plants of this color. Lavender, catmint, buddleia, and alliums all have purple flowers and, therefore, will definitely invite bees into your butterfly garden.
Tubular-shaped flowers are favored by select bees that you can add to your butterfly garden
Long-tongued bees like garden bumblebees love tubular-shaped flowers such as honeysuckle penstemons, foxgloves, and snapdragons as they are an important source of food for them.
Here is a more detailed list of some of the flowers and plants which are sure to attract more bees and butterflies into your garden.
Helianthus (Sunflowers) are a definite favorite of bees that you can add to your butterfly garden
These plants are easy to grow and easy on the eye. Bees and butterflies are very fond of sunflowers, and the plant relies on them for healthy growth. They have a big center filled with pollen, and their brightly colored petals are visually attractive to pollinators.
Look into having roses in your butterfly garden for your bees
Very attractive for bees, especially single or semi-double petalled roses, which allow for easy access to the stamens in the middle of the plant and produce more pollen.
If the rose has too many petals, pollinators will find it hard to reach the center.
One way to ensure growing them properly is to know the process of propagating roses. Factors such as selecting the right propagating time and knowing what tools to use will ensure their success. These are covered in detail in this article that I wrote on how to propagate roses. Linked through here.
Foxgloves are favored by some bees, which is a definite plus for your butterfly garden
A popular plant in country gardens, foxgloves are very popular among bees, particularly long-tongued bumblebees due to the deep flowers filled with nectar.
Lavender is a good plant to have in your butterfly garden for the bees
Due to the strong scent and colorful appearance, lavender is very popular among gardeners and pollinators. It produces an abundance of nectar and can be easily grown in pots and containers.
Echinaceais will surely attract bees into your butterfly garden
Sometimes referred to as coneflower, this plant is beautiful to bees and butterflies due to its vibrant, colorful appearance. The large center provides them with plenty of pollen and nectar, too.
Aster are plants that you must consider adding to your butterfly garden for the bees
The long flowering season of this plant, coupled with its pollen and nectar-rich center, makes it ideal for a butterfly garden.
Look into having Sedum in your butterfly garden for the bees
Also known as stonecrop, this is a durable plant that has particularly flat flowers and therefore is easy for bees and butterflies to gather nectar and pollen from it.
Wallflowers will surely attract bees into your butterfly garden
Small shrub-like plants produce flowers in the spring and summer months. They have a strong, pleasant scent and are biennial to be replenished every two years or so. Bees and butterflies love them for their scent and bright colors.
Providing water for bees in a butterfly garden
In the heat of the summer months, it’s vitally important that bees have access to water. In fact, water is as important to their survival as pollen and nectar are. Providing this will make them more likely to stick around.
A great way to keep bees around is by building a watering station for them, giving them a safe place to rehydrate.
There are a few things to consider if you choose to do this.
Build a water station for bees in your butterfly garden
Building a water station for bees isn’t costly, and it can be a fun activity to undertake. The most simplistic approach you can take is to find a bucket or trough and fill it with water.
Then place multiple wine corks into the water to provide the bees with a stable landing pad. This prevents them from entering the water and drowning.
The bees will remember the water source once they have discovered it and frequently return to it. Just before the sunset, the bees will come and have their last drink before entering their hive at night, so it is a wonderful time to watch them.
Be careful that the water station, meant for the bees does not turn into a breeding ground for pests in your buttefly garden
One caution which is important to consider is that still water can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. If the water’s surface is kept in motion slightly, this will deter the mosquitoes and prevent them from laying their larvae in the water.
How pesticide use can harm bees in your butterfly garden
The use of pesticides to control the unwanted pests in a butterfly garden can cause a lot of harm to bees. As we have already established, bees are very likely to be attracted to a garden for similar reasons that a butterfly is.
Contact pesticides are a high risk to bees when applied to plants, as the bees will crawl over the surfaces that have been sprayed, resulting in their death.
Systemic pesticides can also be deadly to bees as these are usually put into the soil and travel up the plant’s stem, into the leaves, nectar, and pollen, where the bees are poisoned as a result.
Due to the dwindling number of bees, it is essential to consider using pesticides in a garden.
Some of the most hazardous contact pesticides to bees are powder pesticides and dust-based pesticides. The worst-case scenario is if a bee comes into contact with a pesticide then carries it back to the colony via pollen, nectar, or its own body. This can cause widespread death and is one of the main reasons bees are threatened as a species.
Steps to do instead of using pesticides in your butterfly garden that can harm bees
If you feel it is necessary to use pesticides in your butterfly garden, it is good only to use nontoxic solutions which will not cause harm to bees, butterflies, and other creatures.
Organic horticultural sprays and oils which contain only natural ingredients are a good alternative.
You can take various other measures to deter pests, diseases, and aphids in the garden without using pesticides.
Weeding can help keep pests at bay instead of pesticides
Weeds and invasive grasses attract aphids, so keeping on top of the wedding in your butterfly garden and keeping it tidy will go a long way to prevent them. Pull the weeds out from the root.
Harvest crops as soon as they ripen
If you grow fruit and vegetables in your butterfly garden, it is important to harvest them as soon they ripen. Leaving the produce on your plants after it has run its course will inevitably result in pests being attracted to the rotting matter. These pests can bring diseases that run riot throughout the garden if left unmonitored.
Equipment and general garden upkeep can be done
Keeping your equipment clean and taking good care of all the plants and shrubs in your butterfly garden is the easiest way to prevent the need to use pesticides, and in turn, protect visiting bees.
Rotating the crops and plants in your garden
Simply rotating the crops and plants that grow in your butterfly garden will also help defend against disease and pests, thus minimizing the need for pesticides.
This prevents unwanted pests from finding a home in your garden and encourages you to experiment with new additions.
Introduce beneficial predatory insects in your garden
If the damage has been done to an extent, and pests, disease, or aphids have invaded your butterfly garden, don’t reach for the pesticides just yet.
There is another alternative that can reverse the damage naturally. Releasing beneficial predatory insects into the garden can be a highly effective way to control pests. A swarm of ladybirds will tackle aphids head-on and remove the problem.
Building a bee box in your butterfly garden
If your butterfly garden becomes a popular spot for bees to visit, it may be a good idea to build a nesting box to keep them coming back and help them thrive. Due to the dwindling populations of bees, they need all the help they can get to live healthy, productive lives.
There are many great tutorials on the internet for building bee boxes, and thankfully they are inexpensive and don’t require expert joinery skills.
Best places to put the bee box in your butterfly garden
Once you have your box, it is important to keep at least a meter off the ground and avoid blocking the entrance with plants. It must be kept dry to stop the contents from becoming moldy.
The box should be secured firmly to a wall or post to protect the bee eggs inside properly, and it should be moved inside a garden shed throughout the autumn and winter months.
When March comes back around, the container can be put back outside, and a new generation of bees will appear. This is a gratifying process and fun addition to your butterfly garden.
Why bees and butterflies need our help through the butterfly garden
Evidence shows that the populations of bees and many other pollinators are on the decline. Although some bumblebees and solitary bees are increasing their numbers, many other bees have dramatically declined in recent decades.
The butterfly is a flying flower, the flower a tethered butterfly.Ponce Denis Ecouchard Lebrun
We need to start taking action to prevent the negative implications that this will have for the production of food and biodiversity in general. That is why it is essential that if you do have space in your lawns and yards to do your part and try to attract nature in your space, may it be beneficial pollinators, animals, and such.
It gives back to nature by giving them a haven while also reaping the benefits like pollination, general garden upkeep, and keeping pests at bay. More of this is covered in this article that I wrote on ways on how to attract nature, linked through here.
Land-use changes really affected the number of pollinators in this planet
Butterflies and other pollinators are also under threat, but it is thought that, unlike bees, this decline is due to changes in land use which have resulted in the loss of their habitats. This makes butterfly gardens that provide them with foraging, nesting, and breeding sites all the more important!
To put it simply, the quality and availability of flowers have declined due to modern farming practices. The meadows and fields where pollinators would thrive once upon a time are now a rarity.
This has been particularly disastrous to specialist pollinators who collect their pollen and nectar from a select number of plants. Due to the suitable forage being spread out and more sparse, bees can become more difficult to expand their population and colonize.
Conclusion about butterfly gardens and their ability to attract bees
There has never been a more important time to help bees thrive, as there are 35 species currently at risk of extinction in the UK alone. Bees are essential on this earth as they really are considered to be very efficient pollinators that aid in the fostering and blooming process of flowers.
Things such as making sure that nothing can harm them in our butterfly gardens and adding flowers that they favor are just one of the simple ways to give back for their service while also having the advantage of having a vibrant garden of flowers, butterflies, and butterflies, and pollinators alike.
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