Bees are essential to a garden. Without their help in pollinating plants, there would very few flowers or vegetables to be seen. There are two main types of bee in Kenya, the African bee and the European bee. Bees make a huge impact on people worldwide, providing pollination, food, and medicinal values. For centuries, people have been using honey to cure a variety of ailments – it has been proven to kill bacteria, build the immune system, and act as an anti-inflammatory. Amongst the many uses of honey are, the regulation of weight, fighting chronic fatigue and building energy, prevention and treatment of bladder infections and the relief of depression. One of the simplest ways to attract bees to your garden is by growing plants that are rich in nectar and pollen such as: purple flowering onions, golden crocus, dahlias, and grape hyacinth, basil, cotoneaster, English lavender, globe thistle, hyssop, marjoram, rosemary, zinnia, aster, rudbeckia, currant bushes, elder, sage and wild lilac
You should also abide by the following rules:
- Don’t use pesticides. Most pesticides are not selective and by using them you will kill off the beneficial bugs along with the pests. If you must use a pesticide, start with the least toxic one and follow the label instructions to the letter.
- Use local native plants. Research suggests that native plants are four times more attractive to native bees than exotic flowers. They are also usually well adapted to your growing conditions and can thrive with minimum attention.
- Choose several colours of flowers. Bees have good colour vision, which helps them to locate those flowers that promise nectar and pollen. Flower colours that particularly attract bees are blue, purple, violet, white, and yellow.
- Plant flowers in clumps. Flowers clustered into clumps of one species will attract more pollinators than individual plants scattered through the habitat patch. Where space allows, make the clumps four feet or more in diameter.
- Include flowers of different shapes because different types of bees have different requirements when it comes to harvesting the nectar and pollen.
- Feature a diversity of plants that flower in all seasons. Most bee species are generalists, feeding on a range of plants through their life cycle. By having several plant species flowering at once, and a sequence of plants flowering throughout the year, you can support a range of bee species at different times of the season.
- Plant where bees will visit. Bees favour sunny spots rather than shade.
Composting your lawn
Like everything else in life, lawns need love and attention; and the best way to deliver this is via compost. Compost is a great way to nourish roots and make a lawn stronger and greener. If you take the easy route and just spread compost on the surface, then 1/2 inch is about all you can add at one time without harming the grass. But you’ll get much better results if you aerate the lawn first and get the compost down where it will do the most good. The best way to do this is with a core aerator, which peppers the lawn with 2- to 3-inch-deep holes so air and nutrients can reach the roots. After aerating, spread 1/2 to 1 inch of compost over the lawn and work it in with a plastic leaf rake. Finally, give the lawn a good watering to work the compost down into the holes.
Article by Jane Barsby