Summer aster.

Gardening: Please, please feed the bees

Make sure you have flowering shrubs and perennials.

A woman recently called me about the state of bees in Pitt Meadows.

Her unease is centered around the fact that our local agricultural industry has become increasingly focussed around monocultures of high-bush blueberries and cranberries, and that once the pollination season is over for these two crops, there is little pollen and nectar around for the bees to forage on.

Another compounding factor here is that much of the wild brush that was traditionally found around farms has been cleared away right to the edge of ditches in order to maximize growing space.

This means that many native plants that once provided natural forage, such as pussy willow, Nootka rose, chokecherry, hardhack and red elderberry are no longer available to fill the gaps before and after the commercial crop pollination.

I also had a chat with local beekeeper Wolfgang Schoenbach and he confirmed that this is a concern with local apiculture, and that even the secondary cranberry crop provides little nectar for honeybees.

His approach to this problem was to diversify the plant material in his own garden to include such bee-friendly trees as black locust, pussy willows and linden.

He also mentioned that the intensive weed control common to many farms has also led to a decline in plants, such as dandelion and clover, that the bees like to feed on.

Another good example is the invasive Japanese knotweed, which is understandably being eradicated, but in the meantime provides excellent bee forage that makes a tasty honey.

Schoenbach also grows Dutch white clover as a cover crop in some of his fields, specifically for the bees, as it blooms later in the season and fixes its own nitrogen, thus reducing fertilizer costs.

Residents of Pitt Meadows can also help out by making sure they have flowering shrubs and perennials in their gardens in bloom before and after the blueberry and cranberry pollination season.

Some excellent early bloomers include winter heather, the weeping pussy willow, Skimmia japonica (particularly the male plants, which have larger blossoms), English daisies, Leopard’s Bane, wallflower, sweet violet, forget-me-nots and Oregon grape, which are also native.

Some summer-blooming perennials to provide forage after the commercial pollination season include sneezeweed, purple coneflower, milkweed, asters, Joe-Pye weed, black-eyed Susans, golden rod and blanket flower.

There are also many ornamental shrubs which provide excellent bee forage and look great in the garden these include California lilac, various spireas (Spiraea ‘Goldflame’, ‘Snowmound’, ‘Magic Carpet’), bluebeard, English lavender, non-invasive butterfly bush and bog rosemary.

Another important bee-friendly tip is to avoid the use of permissible organic pesticides (such as insecticidal soap or Trounce) on plants, while bees are foraging, as these products work on contact and are not selective in their killing action.

That original concern is a valid one, so we need to provide our local bee colonies with ample forage throughout their active life cycle so please, feed the bees.


Mike Lascelle is a local nursery manager and gardening author



Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Black Press Media files)
Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Katzie Seniors Network keeps elders informed on how to vote

Rides to polling stations hard to come by, but many long term care homes have stations set up within

Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows candidates engaged in an online debate on the environment. (Facebook)
Parties promise improvements to Golden Ears Park

Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows candidates debate environmental issues

If you didn’t vote by mail, or at the advance polls, we hope you get out Saturday to cast your ballot in the 2020 provincial election. (Black Press Media files)
OUR VIEWS: Get out (or not) to vote

The B.C. election is happening on Saturday, Oct. 24. Please make sure to cast your ballot.

Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows’ NDP incumbent Lisa Beare, believes Reese Witherspoon – seen here in the series “The Morning Show,” could best play her on the big screen. (Special to The News Apple TV+/TNS)
Maple Ridge candidates cast themselves in dramatic comedies

ELECTION LEVITY: MLA hopefuls reveal who should play them on the silver screen

The Jolly Coachman Pub in Pitt Meadows will be closed until Oct. 30 due to a case of COVID-19. (Google)
Pitt Meadows pub stays closed after COVID-19 case

Fraser Health advises patrons to self monitor for symptoms

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

The possibility of the Canadian Premier League expanding to the Fraser Valley has been floated online. (Facebook photo)
Canadian Premier League possibly eyeing Fraser Valley expansion

Soccer league looking to add ninth team to the mix, B.C. markets potentially rumoured

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Most Read