The honeybee is not your typical bee — it has an extraordinary ability to do something few insects have ever mastered: It can fly backwards! That means you don’t need to face off with swarms of angry bees when there are wildflowers nearby for them to collect pollen from.
When we think about attracting butterflies or birds, we often focus on the wrong things. Butterflies love nectar (a sugary substance found inside flower buds), but they only drink water if their thirst is really bad. Birds eat fruit, nuts, berries and various kinds of vegetation.
But what do these creatures want? Insect-sized meals tend to require more protein than carbohydrates, so many bugs prefer to feast on animal carcasses, carrion and even feces. So while you might see someone collecting rotting meat scraps out of dumpsters, a hungry bug will likely find far better nourishment by eating flowers instead.
Insects aren’t picky as long as they get enough energy to fuel their bodies. Their specialized stomach enzymes break down sugars into usable forms of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. While some species may sip at dewdrops or lick up sweet juices from tree bark, others consume a wide variety of plant matter. When you consider all the different types of edible insects in North America alone — including beetles, grasshoppers, ants, caterpillars, wasps, bees, lacewings, flies, ladybugs, dragonflies, praying mantises and spiders — insect consumption accounts for over 60 percent of the total amount of biomass consumed worldwide.
If you’ve never seen a real live insect before, imagine hundreds of thousands of tiny black dots buzzing around a single stemless rose bush. In fact, you could probably count them yourself without using any fingers. These flying machines are called bees, and they play critical roles in the lives of nearly every type of living creature on this planet. We depend upon them to grow crops, protect our homes from pests, pollinate our favorite flowers and trees, and create beautiful objects of art for our gardens.
7 Easy Ways to Attract Bees
What follows is a list of seven methods you can try to lure those buzzy magic makers toward your yard or garden. Try all of them or just a couple for best results. If nothing else, you’ll learn why the old saying “Stingo, stingo” isn’t as silly as you thought.
How does it work? Bees rely primarily on scent and sight to communicate. The chemical compounds released when certain flowers emit odors act as powerful signals to guide female bees’ flight paths near male specimens. Male bees release pheromones to mark territory and attract females.
This process allows males to locate potential mates and defend territories. Both sexes use visual cues such as color patterns and body markings to identify members of their own sex. By following basic rules, anyone can become a masterful mimic artist who attracts millions of winged artists back to their special little patch of earth.
Here are 7 methods you can use to attract bees
1. Tools You’ll Need
Flowering perennials, small garden stakes, scissors, rubber bands, gloves, bucket, net, jar lids, wooden spoon, plastic baggies, paper towels, spray bottle filled with rubbing alcohol, dish soap.
2. Attract Bees With Wildflowers
Wildflower seed mixes, wildflower seed packets, handful of fresh wildflowers, spade, gardening gloves, clear glass jars, labels, sharp pencil, newspaper, trash bags, compost pile, watering can, dirt.
- To begin, prepare two rows of five stakes each spaced approximately 4 feet apart along either side of your garden bed. Then take a handful of wildflowers and place them between two layers of masking tape on top of each stake.
- Next, cut open several square pieces of duct tape and wrap them tightly around the stakes above the taped area. Once completely covered, set aside until next spring.
- Next, dig a shallow trench in the center of your prepared plot. Create holes 2 inches deep by 3 inches across with trowels or shovels.
- Fill each hole with soil and tamp gently using the bottom of your boot. Afterward, fill each hole with native wildflower seed mixture.
- Cover each pit with 1/2 inch thick layer of mulch, and continue covering the beds with loose straw or leaves once they reach desired height. Water thoroughly.
- After three weeks, remove the protective covers from your plots.
- Dig into the ground directly below each row of planted wildflowers to uncover individual stems. Wait for six days after digging to allow new shoots to appear beneath the crowns. Cut off dead blossoms and twigs using scissors. Allow bare patches of soil to remain for another week.
- Finally, pull the remaining cover away from each bed and keep the areas watered well. Within months, you should notice colonies of healthy bees actively producing honey.
For extra credit: Find a hive made from recycled materials like soda cans, milk jugs, tin foil and cardboard. Let visitors crawl through the entrance tunnels to view the inner workings of the colony. Note which parts they’d like to know more about.
3. Attract Bees With Humming
A humming sound produced by a vibrating device helps entice insects to approach within range. There are dozens of devices available online and in stores designed specifically for this purpose. Some models include bells, rattles, percussive tones, chimes, musical notes, etc., each capable of creating unique vibrations.
Choose the one that sounds the most pleasing to you and position it anywhere where you hope to attract bees. Make sure you leave room for air circulation underneath the object otherwise moisture trapped under its weight will cause mold to develop. Also, ensure that no children or pets are present during operation because they may be startled by unexpected noises.
4. Attract Bees With A Honey Pot
Honey pots serve as artificial gathering places for wildflowers, providing warmth and shelter to numerous beneficial insects. All you need to build one is a clean clay pot and a lid. First, wash and dry the pot thoroughly then drill four 6-inch diameter holes evenly spaced along the interior surface with a bit slightly larger than the size of your thumb nail.
Use wire mesh or chicken wire stretched horizontally across the mouth of the pot to prevent unwanted entry. Drill additional holes throughout the sides of the pot to facilitate ventilation and drainage. Place the pot upside down on a level surface and weigh it down with heavy stones.
Fill the pot halfway with gravel, sand or crushed stone. Layer half of the wildflower seed mix between the pot rim and the outside edge of the screen. Spread the rest of the seeds over the entire base of the pot. Pack everything down firmly with a hand tamper then pat excess material flat with a piece of scrap cloth. Keep moist by sprinkling the surface with water occasionally. Set the pot outdoors, leaving the screened opening uncovered, and watch for signs of life among the growing flora.
5. Attract Bees With Cat Tails or Spikes
Cat tails are hollow shafts located at the end of branches. As a general rule, cat tail sections are usually longer than twice their width. Therefore, a short section of wood measuring 15 cm x 5cm would qualify as a cat tail. Gather a bundle of cat tails that are similar lengths, tie them together with a length of string, and hang them high from large shrubs or young trees. Be careful not to damage surrounding foliage.
Spiky structures known as spikes protrude outwardly from the ends of branches. Again, choose multiple spike samples of varying sizes and construct a frame. String the frames onto sturdy branches or attach them with zip ties. Ensure that the tips of the spikes point upward. Position the structure close to blooming flowers or bushes and wait patiently for the first swarm of bees to arrive.
6. Attract Bees With A Bug Magnet
Many people enjoy watching crawling insects attempt to land on glowing orbs resembling fireflies. Others marvel at the beauty of monarch butterfly wings. Either way, everyone knows that the key to attracting amazing wildlife lies in offering them a source of light. Fortunately, there’s now a product available that allows you to turn night skies into day lights.
This ingenious gadget resembles a pair of flashing sunglasses mounted atop a lightweight stick. Simply plug it into a wall socket outlet and adjust the intensity dial according to personal preferences. However, unlike incandescent bulbs, LED flashlights last much longer and operate silently. Plus, since they’re powered by electricity, they won’t blow fuses or burn down your house. Most importantly, the units emit very bright beams of pure white light. Because they’re highly visible, these gadgets effectively draw both adult and baby insects closer to you.
7. Attract Bee Foraging Flies And Other Tiny Creatures
A simple trick to catch the attention of tiny bugs that you wouldn’t normally find in your garden includes taking advantage of natural attractions. Bees and other invertebrates look for sources of food and water wherever they can find them.
Instead of scattering small amounts of food around your garden, simply sprinkle table salt in a circle surrounding your plants. Many insects find salt palatable and will visit your garden daily to search for sources of sweetness.