The authors are actively involved with the Urban Bee Lab at UC Berkeley and UC Davis. The lab has been conducting an inventory of the native bees and their preferred flowers of urban California for the past five years. The lab also helps build and manage bee habitat gardens at several schools in the Bay Area, and provides environmental education to a variety of schools and groups throughout the state.
The choices we making in planting our gardens can have positive impacts on the local wildlife, a point that has become familiar to many as they develop habitat gardens. Most are created with the goal of attracting birds and butterflies. Another group of skillful fliers that inhabit nearly every garden also deserves consideration: bees. They provide us with the essential service of pollination and are the most effective pollinators we have. Gardens can be easily designed or modified to attract these important winged visitors. They come in an array of shapes, sizes, and colors and are fascinating to observe. A garden built for bees will most assuredly attract other visitors as well, since butterflies prefer nectar from many of the same flowers, and birds like to feed on seeds and fruits from flowers pollinated by bees.
For Further Reading
Buchmann, Stephen L, Gary Paul Nabhan, Paul Mirocha. The Forgotten Pollinators. Washington, DC: Island Press. 1997.
Frankie, Gordon, R Thorp, J Hernandez, M Rizzardi, B Ertter, J Pawelek, S Witt, M Schindler, R Coville, and V Wojcik. Native Bees Are a Rich Natural Resource in Urban California Gardens. California Agriculture, July-Sept 2009.
Frey, Kate. The Melissa Garden: A Sanctuary and Season of Honeybees. Pacific Horticulture, Jul/Aug/Sep 2009.
Grissell, Eric. Insects and Gardens: In Pursuit of a Garden Ecology. Portland, OR: Timber Press. 2001.
O’Toole, Christopher and Anthony Raw. Bees of the World. New York: Facts on File. 2004.
Schindler, Mary, Gordon Frankie, Robbin Thorp, Barbara Ertter, & Jaclyn Kohleriter. Bees in the ‘Burbs, Pacific Horticulture, Apr/May/Jun 2003.
Shepherd, Matthew, Stephen L Buchmann, Mace Vaughan, and Scott Hoffman Black. Pollinator Conservation Handbook: A Guide to Understanding, Protecting, and Providing Habitat for Native Pollinator Insects. Portland, OR: Xerces Society. 2003.
Tallamy, Douglas W. Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens. Portland, OR: Timber Press. 2007.
The Urban Bee Lab, UC Berkeley and UC DAvis. http://nature.berkeley.edu/urbanbeegardens