We take keeping our workers fed (human or otherwise) seriously at the Genuine Faux Farm. So, we thought we might share a few things that we hope keep the bees (whether they are honey bees or not) happy.
Clover is Our Friend
I was absolutely dismayed to overhear someone proudly state to another person that they had NEVER had clover "problems" in their yard. At first, I was a bit indignant that they would consider clover to be a problem. But, then, I was a bit sad for them. This means they have probably never looked for a four-leaf clover, or dodged a bee when they were walking barefoot in the clover, or gotten a whiff of the lightly sweet smell clover emits during one of those beautiful mid-July evenings where the wind is very light and the air feels soft.
|One of our lawn areas this July - with lots of white clover blooming|
|I'd rather talk about this|
Wildflowers Making a Comeback
|Purple coneflower and other wildflowers|
|Queen of the Prairie is a favorite on the farm|
Letting the Arugula Go
We will occasionally let a crop go to flower (like arugula) after it bolts just to provide more habitat for our pollinators. I suppose you could argue that you are distracting pollinators from the plants you want them to pollinate, but I think you would be wrong about that. Instead, I prefer to think that I am providing a smorgasbord of tastes for our pollinating workers that will prevent them from thinking they even have to leave the farm. There is little chance that we have come even remotely close to capacity for the number of pollinators we can support, so I would rather err on the side of providing too much opportunity than not enough.
|The bee activity in the arugula was strong this June/July|
Cover Crops as Pollinator Attractors
A newer picture is definitely in order for this. But, I'll go with what I have here. The Southwest field holds our melon patch this season. We plant zinnia, borage, calendula and bee's friend as flowers in rows to keep the melon varieties apart from each other as they vine. this season, we had a couple areas in this field that we felt were a bit rough, so we cover cropped those areas. The middle area you see below is buckwheat.
|Lots of ways to feed the workers.|
Trying to Be Consistent
Every year has its own challenges. One of our perpetual issues is finding enough time to make our farm pollinator friendly. Planting annual flowers is nice, but it sometimes feels like it is just another crop to plant, weed, water and maintain. And, if you're desperately trying to get your food crop in as it is, it can be hard to put in the crop for the pollinators. Sometimes, it would be nice to mow the lawn and not think so hard about what areas we are NOT going to mow this time.
But then, I get a whiff of the clover on an evening after I've been sweating through shirts in the field. Or, I see a monarch floating by after it visited some milkweed we left to grow in a corner of one field. Or, perhaps I stop and smile back at the zinnias (aren't they always smiling when they are blooming?). Yup, I think we can keep doing this.