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Just What I Wanted to Hear

February 5th, 2009

I’ve been reading through Keeping Bees And Making Honeyin my effort to learn about beekeeping. I came across this quote yesterday.

Unfortunately, some of the most spectacular garden flowers are of no use whatsoever to the honey bee. Double headed roses, chrysanthemums and dahlias, provide no nectar and hardly any pollen. In contrast, many flowers that are often discounted as weeds, such as dandelions and forget-me-nots, provide a rich source of food. That is why one of the best and easiest things you can do to make your garden more bee-friendly is to throw away the weedkillers that maintain those immaculate lawns and let your lawn and your flowerbeds go wild.

This is the kind of thing I like to hear. We’ve already gone organic, so no chemicals & weedkillers are used here at Chiot’s Run. But I still spend hours and hours pulling weeds. I think when I have bees I’ll be seeing all these weeds in a different light. Those dandelions will look like tasty honey in my tea.
I’ll also be incorporating a few more pollen rich flowers in my gardens. I have forget-me-nots already and those seed down easily so I’m going to try to move them throughout the gardens. I also have a ton of echinacea that the bees love, and they spread like weeds since they’re a native plant.
Even if you don’t have bees it pays to have some native plants for pollinators and butterflies. You’ll be cultivating a natural environment which will be a refuge to these beneficial insects since so many other gardens are full of pretty but useless flowers and so many people use chemicals and pesticides on their lawns & gardens. So I think this year I won’t cringe when I see a yellow dandelion in the lawn, I’ll smile knowing I’m doing something beneficial for the bees.
Are you willing to let weeds grow & bloom for the bees and other beneficial insects? Have you ever planted a flower or plant just for an insect or bird?

16 Comments to “Just What I Wanted to Hear”
  1. Judy on February 5, 2009 at 7:38 am

    We plant a row of ‘bee friendly’ flowers in our garden each year. I also let the milkweed grow in our flower beds at home, not only for the bees but for the monarch butterflies.

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  2. warren on February 5, 2009 at 9:18 am

    Especially when we lived in Nashville, we used to not mow our lawn (which was full of white clover and dandelions) because the bees were all over it. Of course, bees can travel in a 2-5 mile (depending on who you read)radius from the hive so really, your neighbors, you know, the ones down the road that everyone complains about because they don’t mow, are helping too. Here in WV, for some reason our lawn just doesn’t have clover or dandelion. We don’t use herbicides but they just don’t grow here. Still, there are lots of trees and a lot of my honey is tree honey, esp tulip poplar.

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  3. Susy on February 5, 2009 at 9:29 am

    We have tons of tulip poplar in the woods surrounding our house. We’re fortunate to live in a neighborhood where it’s not a big deal of have a super neat yard, so that’ll be nice for my bees.

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  4. kristin on February 5, 2009 at 10:33 am

    I don’t have to be “willing” so much as “lazy” and “overwhelmed,” because there will always, always be weeds on our property. Too much land and too little of me and my time to keep it under control. Bees love us.

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  5. Kelly on February 5, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    I am always looking for a reason not to pull weeds – THANK YOU Susy!!!

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  6. cheesychick on February 5, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    I cringe every time I see our “new” neighbors out there spraying the Round up because they want the perfect lawn, to go with the perfect energy efficient new house (built right in the middle of a farm field)to go with the color coordinated landscaping flowers that are of no benefit what so ever to bees. You know the type, they put in geothermal heat, recycle all their plastics and glass, drive their little hybrid cars and they call themselves “green.” Oops, off on a tangent there…sorry. I’m so glad you are so excited about your bees. We need more honey bees!

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  7. Susy on February 5, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    Oh yes, I know the type cheesychick. We have a few neighbors like that. They have a hybrid they keep in the driveway and a huge SUV that hides in the garage of their lake house and there’s a huge boat at their boat dock.

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  8. Di on February 5, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    Bee’s love Basil! At least they do in my garden! Everytime I go to that side of the garden I hear them buzzing about on the basil plants!

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  9. Em on February 5, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    yes, lol, when our grass is long and weedy I call it a *sward* and defend the weeds there as fodder for our beneficials; it’s also a great excuse for not mowing! When we do mow I try to do sections so that the insects have somewhere to move to when I’ve chopped down their home. Of course the weeds also carry over pest insects too, but you can’t have everything :)

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  10. Frugal Trenches on February 6, 2009 at 3:44 am

    Really interesting! I’ve wanted certain trees for birds before!

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  11. Mangochild on February 6, 2009 at 4:23 am

    Yep, I’m happy to have beneficial plants and even weeds in my garden. I don’t like things to be too tidy, it somehow creates more stress. Good to learn that I can help other creatures with this too.
    As another poster said, it is hard to see the “perfect greeners” turning round and then using the chemical fertilizers etc to tend their growing things…. sometimes simple is best.

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  12. Chicago Mike on February 6, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    I actually was not planning on planting squash this year, but my acorn squash started attracting squash bees last year, a native pollinator, and from now on I have promised myself I will plant squash of various kinds (including some lovely little pumpkins I recently was offered – thx!) to encourage them. It sounds weird, but they looked appreciative as they burrowed into the blossoms at night, “like, wow, this is perfect, thanks mister”. So we are going to have acorn, zuchinni, pumpkins, crookneck, etc. Viva Native Pollinators!

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  13. Chicago Mike on February 6, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Sorry to belabor the issue, but I had been seeing these bees and didn’t realize what I had going on until Paul at apaetoday did a spot on his blog about them. I looked up their characteristics, watched, and sure enough, thats what I had. Now I feel like they are my buddies. Can’t wait to see them!

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  14. Susy on February 6, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    That’s fantastic Mike. I’ll have to check those out to see if we have them around here. Thanks for the tip.

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  15. Chicago Mike on February 6, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    Here is a good link for squash bees:

    With my little guy being an early riser, we will be out early watching for the females to show up and watch the males move around.

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  16. Kelly on February 8, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    ALL the ornamentals I pick (okay, almost all, because I do have one dahlia in a pot on the porch) are chosen with pollinators in mind. We have a huge row of hops that we let grow wild too. The bees love it, and all the bad pests seem to gravitate towards it and leave my garden alone. The bee balm seems to of course be the favourite of all the animals – hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees all gravitate towards it so I’m getting a ton more this year for all the animals to enjoy so they’re not all trying to swarm on the same plant like they did last year.

    We also let the forget-me-nots and the hawkweed grow wherever it wants, although we do have to keep the dandelion population down otherwise they completely take over my whole garden and start competing with my veggies for nutrients.

    Everybody thinks I’m crazy for letting the hawkweed go everywhere since it’s considered a weed, but I think it looks pretty all over the lawn.

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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