Bumblebees enjoy one another’s company. They are considered to be one of nature’s most sociable characters. Bumblebees live in colonies; each colony may be made up of fifty to four hundred individual bees. The population size varies by the bumblebee species and environmental conditions.
The queen, a dominant female, rules the colony. The other bees serve her or gather food or care for developing larvae. During the late fall, the entire colony dies, except for the queen. She hibernates during the winter months underground and starts a new colony in the spring.
Like the honey bee and other pollinators, the bumble is at risk. The National Academy of Sciences in the United States has recently stated that the bumblebee is in danger. The Academy has not yet pinpointed the specific threat but does offer a range of possibilities, habitat loss, and pesticide use are two.
Flowers provide pollen and nectar to feed the bumblebee. As the bee feeds pollination takes place. As the bee moves around within the plant and from plant to plant pollination occurs. When pollen is transferred in and between flowers of the same species fertilization occurs. This leads to successful seed and fruit production for plants. Pollination ensures that a plant will produce full-bodied fruit and a full set of viable seeds.
Hummingbirds also pollinate the plants we consume either as food or as décor. Attracting hummingbirds to the yard is exactly the same process used to bring in the bees.
Hummingbirds will visit any garden that contains one or more of the following plants:
Bee balm: Bee balm or Monarda didyma will not only attract hummingbirds, but will also encourage butterflies, bees, and other nectar-seeking creatures to stop by. Bee balm is also known as horsemint, wild bergamot, and Oswego tea.
Bee balm does best in full sun but will accept light shade. It will do very well in moist soils that is rich in compost or other organic material.
The butterfly bush or Buddleja davidii is well known for its ability to attract butterflies but it also pulls in hummingbirds. The butterfly bush is a deciduous to semi-evergreen shrub that has a weeping form reaching anywhere from 6-12 ft. (1.8-3.7 m) tall with a spread of 4-15 ft. (1.2-4.6 m)
Red columbine or Aquilegia Canadensis is a well-known perennial wildflower. Red columbine can be grown in sunny areas but does well in shade. This It will reach 24-36" tall with an 18" spread at maturity.
Daylilies or Hemerocallis enjoy full sun and the bright yellow variety are hummingbird magnets. Daylilies can tolerate light shade, but flower best with a minimum of six hours of direct sun. Light shade during the hottest part of the day keeps the flowers fresh.
Do not plant daylilies near trees and shrubs.
Salvia is a relatively common plant and the red variety is very attractive to hummingbirds.
When you plant the garden with the goal of providing space for honeybees, bumblebees or hummingbirds you are planning for the pollinators our food supply system depends upon, until next week, happy gardening.