The humble honey bee, is such an important part of our food chain, not only in Australia but worldwide. Without their amazing ability to pollinate our crops, we would be extremely limited with our food source. The Wheen Bee Foundation of Australia, claims that “two thirds of Australia’s agricultural output is dependent on honey bees”. There have been a lot of studies over the years that can support this claim. A significant difference in a crops output, and the quality of that output, is greatly improved with the presence of bees hard at work. So what can we take from that? Planting to attract bees is a vital part of growing produce at home.

The Process

Many crops that we grow at home need bees to pollinate the flowers and perform the vital reproduction process. The pollinating process is performed by more than just bees however bees are known as the head pollinators. Other pollinators include birds, bats, insects, the wind, and even water.

As a bee collects from the flowers some of the pollen from the male reproductive part of the flower, is transferred to the next flower and rubbed onto the female organ of the new flower. This is the fertilisation process, and from this fruit carrying seeds can develop.

Some of the crops that need bees include:

  • Alfalfa
  • Almonds
  • Apples
  • Asparagus
  • Beans
  • Beets
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Buckwheat
  • Cabbage
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Cherries
  • Chestnuts
  • Chives
  • Clover
  • Cranberries
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Garlic
  • Gooseberries
  • Grapes
  • Horseradish
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Mustard
  • Onions
  • Parsley
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Pumpkins
  • Radishes
  • Raspberries
  • Rhubarb
  • Squash
  • Strawberries
  • Sunflowers
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Turnip
  • Watermelon

Plant Selection

Nature has an amazing way of adapting to what it needs. Over time, plants have found a way to attract bees to them by producing more of an open, flat tubular flower with lots of pollen and nectar. These flowers also produce a ‘bee attracting’ scent and use bright colours to signal to the bees they have the goods!

It is said that flowers which get regular visits by bees will produce more uniformed and larger produce, which is more obvious in fruit that is grown on trees.

There are lots of different ways you can offer bees, and other beneficial insects, a long-term lease in your family veggie patch, by creating a habitat for them to reside. Why not make one today!

 

References:

http://www.bees.techno-science.ca/english/bees/what-is-a-bee/default.php [Accessed 20th April 2017]

http://honeybee.org.au/pdf/PollinationAwareFactSheet.pdf [Accessed 20th April 2017]

http://www.wheenbeefoundation.org.au/about-bees-and-pollination/ [Accessed 20th April 2017]