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#PolliNationSA | Gardening with bees

Connal.Eardley
Published on September 27th 2020
33
A close up of a flower
Gardening with bees is the conservation of bees on a smaller scale as the average garden, including mine, is bee-depauperate.
There are over 1 300 different bee species in South Africa and I think that at least 100 different species could be collected at any place over a few seasons. This diversity is not seen in gardens. So there is something that needs to be done that we are not doing.
A parrot sitting on top of a wooden door
Leaf cutter bee provisioning its nest. Andrea Ferguson
The three most important things are a diversity of bee plants, nesting sites and building materials (resin, mud and fibre). Increasing these will mean gardening a little differently. Having adequate nesting sites is possibly our downfall. We can improve this by adding bee hotels, leaving old stumps on the ground or adding a few wood or mud blocks with holes in them. This will all be for the bees that live above ground.
A vase of flowers on a table
Candide Bee Hotel - soon to be available to buy!
For those that live in the ground areas of the garden with bare ground that is seldom watered and does not have mulch, like plant pots that are seldom watered, should work for many miners.
Many countries abroad are putting a lot of effort into becoming more bee-friendly; UK, USA, Costa Rica, European Union; Australia to name but a few. We need to put South Africa on that list. This will have to come from the gardeners, farmers and citizen scientists - that is YOU. You may want to join the Bee WhatsApp group). There you can also ask questions on suitable bee plants etc.
A close up of a flower
The time is right. Next year in August/September we’ll have the Twelfth International Symposium on Pollination (ISPXII) at Kirstenbosch in Cape Town. One group that is very interesting in attending is the urban bee conservation group, i.e., the bee gardening group. They are mostly young people, extremely dynamic and love their pollinator gardening. If there is sufficient interest we can organise a special session for those interested in gardening with bees – let me know. But the whole symposium will be interesting to those with a broad spectrum of interests (https://www.icppr.com/events.html).
A close up of a flower
Large carpenter bees drill their own holes into softwoods, like Commiphora. But it seems to be better to bring a log with a nest into one’s garden to get them started.
There is a lot happening with pollinator gardening, lots more to learn and a great community for you to join. Help Candide to help you bring this all together for the love of a greener world filled with ample food and shelter for bees.

Share your bee pictures with us by using the hashtag #PolliNationSA!

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