Garden Photo of the Day

Treasuring Bees in the Garden

We can all do simple things to help bees thrive

Sherry Elder of Fancy Farm, Kentucky, sent in these photos of two of her favorite things together: yellow flowers and bees.

More and more gardeners are realizing how important it is to make our gardens not only beautiful but safe places for critically important pollinators such as bees to exist. Luckily, often the goal of making a beautiful garden and supporting pollinators overlap. We love abundant flowers all season long, and that is also the main thing bees need to thrive! Avoiding the use of pesticides and adding some native plants to your garden will make a pollinator paradise.

A honeybee sipping nectar. Bees and other pollinators get most of their energy from the sugary nectar produced by many flowers. Listen to an episode about plants for pollinators on our podcast, Let’s Argue About Plants.


Another honeybee on a dandelion flower. The large orange lumps on either side of the bee are pollen sacks. In addition to nectar, bees eat a lot of protein-rich pollen. Honeybees, though critically important for so much of our agriculture, are not native to North America. They, like the dandelion the bee is feeding on, came with human colonists from Europe.


Though honeybees are not native to the Americas, we do have many native bees. This is a bumblebee, probably the common eastern bumblebee (Bombus impatiens), which is one of 46 different species of bumblebees native to North America.


Though honeybees get a lot more attention, native bees like bumblebees are also critically important to our ecosystem, and many of them are suffering greatly from habitat loss, new diseases, and pesticide use. Providing pesticide-free, flower-filled spaces for them in our gardens can do a lot to help these beautiful insects thrive. And don’t discount “weeds.” Dandelions are not native to North America, and few people plant them on purpose, but they are still a wonderful source of food for many different native insects.


Many people fear being stung by bees, but most bees are not aggressive, particularly when they are feeding on flowers. Usually as long as you don’t swat at or step on them, they will leave you alone and keep focused on the important work they do for our agricultural system and the larger ecosystem.


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View Comments


  1. User avater
    meander_michaele 09/21/2018

    Beautiful photos, Sherry...each one special in its own way. I think I'm most taken by the first bumblebee's quite captivating how he is burrowing into the delicate tendrils of the flower petals. I keep going back to that one and marveling at its intricacy.

  2. User avater
    treasuresmom 09/21/2018

    Great photos!

  3. User avater
    user-7007816 09/21/2018

    Sherry, some great photos and a valuable reminder of the importance of bees. Thank-you

  4. Chris_N 09/21/2018

    Very nice photos. I like dandelions because they are a good early source of nectar and pollen. Research has shown, though, that they are lacking in certain proteins so bees can't survive on them alone. The best advice is to grow a variety of flowers. Darn, need to add more plants to the garden! ;-)

  5. User avater
    user_9910 09/21/2018

    Thanks for the nice comments. I love bees!

  6. btucker9675 09/21/2018

    Love the bees!!

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