Get To Know The Bees In Your Backyard

Air Date:
Heard On The Larry Meiller Show
Bee on flower
Lisa Ruokis (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Get to know the bees in your backyard. Join us as we talk about why bees are so important, how to tell bees from wasps, how to attract bees to your garden, and more.

Featured in this Show

  • How To Bring Back The Bees To The Backyard

    The best way to attract bees to one’s yard is to provide what they need, advises an insect researcher and bee expert.

    “Bees need basically two things: they need food and they need a home,” said Joseph S. Wilson, an associate professor of biology at Utah State University-Tooele and the co-author of “The Bees in Your Backyard, A Guide to North American Bees.”

    Surprisingly, most of bees that live in North America don’t live in a hive, said Wilson. Instead, many of them live in the ground, and these bees are called solitary bees. As the name implies, Wilson said these bees don’t live in a big group. A single female will dig a hole in the ground, lay eggs, bring pollen and nectar, bury the nest and fly away.

    “In our yards, in addition to planting a diversity of flowers, it’s good to leave some nesting areas,” he said.

    He also recommends leaving sunny, open areas of soil that aren’t covered with mulch.

    Other types of bees nest in cavities. People can make a suitable habitat for them by taking a piece of wood and drilling small holes in it. Wilson suggests placing the wood in a spot that gets morning sunlight.

    The other key component to getting bees to nest is providing them with food. This means nectar and pollen — both of which are vital to adult bees and their larvae.

    Wilson said that there are many easy to grow plants that will help provide the food that bees need. Some of the plants that he recommends include bee balm, milkweed, sunflowers, coneflowers and herbs like sage.

    He added that planting a variety of flowers with different colors and shapes will likewise attract a variety of bees.

    All in all, Wilson said that by planting bee-loving flowers and providing nesting material, a person’s backyard can help to replace the loss of habitat that is adversely affecting many bee populations.

Episode Credits

  • Larry Meiller Host
  • Jill Nadeau Producer
  • Joseph S. Wilson Guest