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How to Plant a Bee Friendly Garden with Kids

As some of you may know we have brought on some AMAZING new bloggers to the Natural Living Mamma team. Erin, the author of this article, is the owner of the blog Natural Wonderer where she shares all about natural living, real food, sustainable farming, and a simplified life. Welcome to Erin and enjoy this great post!


 

Young children love to help- in the kitchen, with the laundry, cleaning and dusting.  There is virtually no household chore that my son hasn’t shown an interest in helping with (although he is much more helpful with some than with others).  Whenever possible, I try to involve him with household tasks to help satiate his curiosity, teach him how to do said tasks so he can complete them on his own in the future, and to instill a sense of responsibility into him.

Kids’ helpful nature doesn’t end at the front door.  There are many outside tasks in which a toddler or young child can participate that teach firsthand knowledge of important natural processes.  My favorite of these tasks is gardening.

While vegetable gardening is rewarding for a young child (you get to eat what you grow!), most children are naturally attracted to the beauty of flowers and love to plant and pick them.  Planting a wildflower garden with a child is an excellent way to bring beauty to your yard while teaching the concepts of plant growth and care and about the importance of natural pollinators, such as bees.

It is no secret that bees are endangered.  With one out of every three bites of food coming from plants pollinated by bees and over 50 percent of the produce section relying on them, it could be said that saving the bees is one of the most important environmental issues of our time.

So what can the home gardener, or a child, do to help reverse the alarming trend of bee deaths?  Create a bee-friendly habitat in your yard or in another public place where you garden.  It is as simple as the age old cycle of dirt, seeds, water, and sun; something even the youngest toddler can be involved in and be proud of.

How to Plant a Bee Friendly Garden

  • Bees love sun, so try to find a spot that is sunny for most of the day and is sheltered from strong winds.
  • Use native plants whenever possible.  There are many benefits to both gardener and bee when using native plants.  They are easier to grow, as they are best suited for your soil and climate, and, therefore, can thrive with little attention (always a plus when you have small children around).  Many native herbs and perennials can also be used for food and medicinal purposes, and they are four times more attractive to bees than exotic flowers.
  • Be colorful!  Bees have great color vision in order to help them find the flowers essential to their survival.  Bees love flowers in all colors, but their favorite tend to be blue, purple, white, and yellow.  Show your child seed packets or pictures of species you are considering and let him or her choose which ones to plant.
  • Plant a variety of flowers that bloom throughout the growing season in order to provide pollen and nectar to bees throughout the spring, summer, and fall.
  • Plant in clumps.  Whenever possible, group flowers of the same type together.  This attracts more bees than individual species spread throughout the garden.  Clumps of four feet in diameter are ideal.  When planting with a child, clusters of plants are ideal because they can simply stand in one place and scatter seeds on the ground rather than worrying about placing them in a carefully designated spot.
  • Don’t use pesticides!  This one should go without saying.  Not only are you killing off beneficial bugs along with the pests, but pesticides are highly toxic to humans, as well (especially small ones).

Bumble Bee on White Flower

Native Plants that Bees Love

Any flower planted is a boon to bees, but native flowers should be your first choice in helping native bees survive and thrive.  The following is a non-exhaustive list of plant types that provide a good source of pollen and nectar for bees.  These are not individual species, but plant genera that are generally found in some form or another across the United States.  A local nursery or a wildflower guide can help you to find species specific to your local area.

  • Aster
  • Black-eyed Susan
  • Caltrop
  • Creosote bush
  • Currant
  • Elder
  • Goldenrod
  • Huckleberry
  • Joe-pye weed
  • Lupine
  • Oregon grape
  • Penstemon
  • Purple coneflower
  • Rabbit-brush
  • Rhododendron
  • Sage
  • Scorpion-weed
  • Snowberry
  • Stonecrop
  • Sunflower
  • Wild buckwheat
  • Wild-lilac
  • Willow

Whether your family fills your yard with wildflowers or simply plants a handful of flowers outside your back door, your experience will teach your children the importance of our most prolific pollinators, demonstrate how plants are grown, and will make your corner of the world a more beautiful place.  Happy planting!

For more information about bee-friendly habitats, check out this handy guide from the USDA.

CC images courtesy of digital cat on Flickr and Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK (Bumble Bee  Uploaded by Magnus Manske) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

About Erin Ter Beest

Erin Ter Beest lives and blogs in Alto, Wisconsin. She takes care of her son, Sawyer, while dabbling in traditional foods, alternative health, and raising chickens and milk goats with her husband, Casey. More of Erin’s thoughts on all things food, nutrition, farm, and home can be found at her website, Natural Wonderer. She also loves to connect on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.
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18 Responses to How to Plant a Bee Friendly Garden with Kids

  1. Kylie says:

    We are planting flowers for the bees too!

  2. Amanda @ Erickson and Co says:

    One day I will have a nice yard I hope! Its a lot of work. I wish I could have my whole back yard a giant flower herb, and edible garden.

  3. […] How to Plant a Bee Friendly Garden with Kids. Gardening. Support the health of our environment and our pollinators with a kid friendly bee garden.  […]

  4. […] How to Plant a Bee Friendly Garden with Your Kids […]

  5. Gina B says:

    My kids would love this. I would be terrified, though, having been stung twice!! (Once on a Disney World ride, if you can believe it…)

    • That’s understandable! Being stung definitely isn’t fun. 🙁 Surprisingly, my son isn’t scared of bees despite being stung at a pretty young age (while just standing in our living room looking out the window)!

  6. I love this. I’ve been creating a bee friendly yard for the last 5 years, out of pure selfishness though. I want them to help pollinate my fruits so I get lots of food lol! I’m so excited to have my little baby so we can garden together 🙂

  7. I am so going to do this with my 2 year old! How fun! He just got a bunch of flower seeds in his Easter basket, so I’m happy to see these guidelines to help them attract more bees.

    • Amanda says:

      My kids LOVED planting seeds in the garden! They aren’t in nice pretty rows but I think being planted with love by toddlers is way better anyway.

  8. Amanda @ Erickson and Co says:

    I love this! I shared it on reddit and stumble upon!

  9. heather says:

    this will be our first year keeping bees, and we are planning on planting tons and tons of flowers! thanks for a great list to get us started!

  10. Jessica N says:

    As my daughters nickname is Bee, we fully intend on planting a bee friendly garden!

  11. […] How to Plant a Bee-Friendly Garden with Kids from Natural Living Mamma […]

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