The Bee-Friendly Garden: Design an Abundant, Flower-Filled Yard that Nurtures Bees and Supports Biodiversity

The Bee-Friendly Garden: Design an Abundant, Flower-Filled Yard that Nurtures Bees and Supports Biodiversity


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For every gardener who cares about the planet, this guide to designing a bee garden helps you create a stunningly colorful, vibrant, healthy habitat that attracts both honeybees and native bees.

In The Bee-Friendly Garden, award-winning garden designer Kate Frey and bee expert Gretchen LeBuhn provide everything you need to know to create a dazzling garden that helps both the threatened honeybee and our own native bees. No matter how small or large your space, and regardless of whether you live in the city, suburbs, or country, just a few simple changes to your garden can fight the effects of colony collapse disorder and the worldwide decline in bee population that threatens our global food chain. There are many personal benefits of having a bee garden as well! Bee gardens:

· contain a gorgeous variety of flowers
· bloom continuously throughout the seasons
· are organic, pesticide-free, and ecologically sustainable
· develop healthy and fertile soil
· attract birds, butterflies, and other beneficial insects
· increase the quantity of your fruit and vegetable harvest
· improve the quality, flavor, and size of your produce

Illustrated with spectacular full-color photos, The Bee-Friendly Garden debunks myths about bees, explains seasonal flower progression, and provides detailed instructions for nest boxes and water features. From “super blooming” flowers to regional plant lists and plants to avoid, The Bee-Friendly Garden is an essential tool for every gardener who cares about the planet and wants to make their yard a welcoming habitat for nature’s most productive pollinator.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781607747635
Publisher: Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale
Publication date: 02/09/2016
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 625,906
Product dimensions: 7.40(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

KATE FREY is an international garden designer and consultant specializing in sustainable, insect-hospitable landscaping and small farms. She won two gold medals at the Chelsea Garden Show in London for ecologically themed gardens and is a popular speaker at garden shows and clubs. She has written for Gardens Illustrated and Pacific Horticulture magazines, and lives in Hopland, CA. Learn more at

GRETCHEN LEBUHN is a professor of biology at San Francisco State University and the author/editor of two books on pollinators, Field Guide to the Common Bees of California and Attracting Native Pollinators. She is the founder and director of The Great Sunflower Project (, a national citizen science program designed to gather information about bee diversity and activity.

Read an Excerpt

As a professional garden designer, I used to judge the beauty and interest of a garden by the composition of colors, the texture of foliage, and the plants complementary or contrasting forms. I assessed scenes of nature by their ability to evoke awe or by the perfectly arranged composition of plant species. It wasn’t until my five-year-old son and I observed the metamorphosis of four brilliantly striped monarch caterpillars on a patch of silvery Indian milkweed in our garden that my concept of beauty and interest changed. Besides the caterpillars, I suddenly began to notice the many species of bees that visited the milkweeds and plants surrounding them: fat and fluffy bumblebees with a variety of stripes, hoods, capes, and bottoms; small bees carrying pollen on the underside of their abdomen; shiny black carpenter bees; stout, long-horned bees; and the most exotic looking: the iridescent green sweat bees. There seemed no end of the flower visitors attracted to just one small area of plants.

Soon I was spending more time watching what was visiting the flowers in my gardens than looking at the flowers themselves. The garden became a place of intrigue. Question after question was generated by each scene: Why were some flowers mobbed by visitors like flies, beetles, and lacewings, others by native bees and honeybees, and still others by just butterflies? What was it about the flower structure, pollen, or nectar that appealed to a specific set of organisms and not to others?

We put up bee-nesting blocks next to the garden and they were filled the first year, each hole neatly plugged with mud or chewed plant stems. Suddenly, the life that was visiting the flowers became an integral part of the beauty and vitality contained in the garden.

From this first milkweed plant, a world has opened and continues to open—endlessly. I have created habitat and bee gardens across California, at the Chelsea Flower Show in London, and in Japan and Saudi Arabia. Each is flower filled, suffused with color and shifting blooms, and is uplifting and engaging to the human visitor. Under the gray skies of London, I planted western native wildflowers and agricultural clovers in orange, deep blue, yellow, red, and white under and around an array of grapevines in a series of three gardens showcasing organic viticulture. Two of the gardens won gold medals and were visited by Queen Elizabeth, demonstrating that organic agriculture and the vibrant colors and soft forms of wildflowers have wide appeal. In Japan, my husband and I created a habitat garden focused on butterflies and bees, composed of a meadow with pastel-colored flowers under the soft, spring leaves of Japanese maples.

In the harsh light and dusty heat in Saudi Arabia, on an organic vegetable and fruit farm owned by one of the princes, we planted bright yellow sunflowers, orange and white cosmos, white alyssum, basils, cilantro, za’atar, mint, and fennel to attract and support wildlife. Watching wild bees covered in sticky pollen became our entertainment.

Spending time in a bee garden allows us to step into another world, transcending the everyday routine and entering a place of beauty and anticipation. With these gardens, we develop and maintain a connection to something larger than ourselves—we get to see and know the intrinsic value of the flowers and the lives of the bees that visit them in each season.

Table of Contents

Preface  vii
Introduction: The Benefits of a Bee-Friendly Garden  1
Chapter 1: Our Friends, the Bees  15
Chapter 2: Plants for Your Bee-Friendly Garden  43
Chapter 3: Bee-Friendly Plants for Edible Gardens  103
Chapter 4: Bee Garden Basics  115
Chapter 5: Designing Your Bee Garden  137
Chapter 6:
Beyond Your Own Backyard—
Becoming a Bee Activist  173
Resources  181
Regional Plant Lists  186
     Southeast Region  190
     South Central Region  192
     Southwest Region  194
     Pacific Northwest Region  197
     Rocky Mountain/Intermountain West Region  201
     Northeast/Midwest/Mid-Atlantic Region  204
Photography Credits  207
Index  208

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