By Victoria Fuller
This week we celebrate bees in all of their bumbly and honey-bearing glory on May 20th, also known as “World Bee Day” so for this week’s blog post we are going to shed some light on all of the ways that these incredible insects contribute to the environment and enrich our lives as well as some suggestions for bee-friendly plants that you can easily cultivate in your Cedar Planters raised garden bed!
Bees are pollinators - If we were to focus on one key reason why bees are well…the bees knees (sorry but how could I resist) then the one that immediately springs to mind as well as to the top of every “Bees are great” blog is the fact that bees primary purpose is to pollinate. “Pollination” is what occurs when bees and other pollinators (such as birds, bats, moths, small mammals, and many more: the list is thankfully huge!) transfer pollen to a stigma, ovule, flower, or plant to allow fertilization, so in short: without pollinators flowers and crops would be unfertilized and thus unable to yield their flowers, fruits, and other forms of botanical offspring.
Bees are expert creators - When we think of bees one of the first things that we will usually think of is “honey!” but there’s a lot more up these little fellows culinary sleeves than just honey! Bees are also capable of producing beeswax, royal jelly, and propolis as well as honeycomb as a by-product.
Beeswax is an incredibly versatile ingredient that has both cosmetic and medicinal uses. Cosmetically beeswax hydrates, conditions, and smoothes the skin and thus it is often found as an ingredient in lip balms, skin salves, and hair masks. Medicinally beeswax helps with skin regeneration, soothes itchiness and skin irritation, helps with the appearance of skin aging, and helps provide a barrier against some environmental pollutants (talk about a wonder product!).
Royal Jelly is described by registered dietitian nutritionist Malina Malkani as a milk-like substance produced by worker bees as nourishment for queen bees and their young. Royal Jelly is predominantly used by humans in cosmetic products as an ingredient to help boost collagen production, ease menstrual and menopausal symptoms, and improve overall health.
Popolis is a substance consisting of a mixture of beeswax, resin from plants and trees, and bee saliva that is used to help the structural integrity of the hive, however it’s more than just a sealant for bees! Humans have discovered that it has incredible anti-aging properties while also smoothing and moisturizing!
Bees complete the circle of life by providing food for other creatures
As morbid as it is, this is still a valid point that deserves to be made! Bees provide a food source for over 24 species of bird as well as spiders and other insects! It’s truly the circle of life and if bees weren’t part of this vital food chain then we dread to think how unbalanced things would become!
With these bee-facts in mind, here are some botanicals that you can plant to encourage bees to visit your garden and thus help all of us thrive (all while having a beautiful and colourful garden to enjoy):
Goldenrod - A herbaceous perennial with beautiful yellow flowers that tends to bloom in marshes, meadows, prairies, and savannahs.
Zinnia - A colourful and beautiful annual flower with stunning blooms.
Sunflower - An iconic flower with edible seeds and beautiful yellow petals.
Foxglove - A beautiful herbaceous perennial that hails from Western Europe with beautiful hanging purple petals.
Rosemary - A shrub with fragrant and evergreen needle-like leaves.
Please feel free to tag us in your photos of your Cedar Planters raised garden beds with their visiting bees and other wildlife!