Monday, 4 November 2013

The Good, The Bug and Ugly!

So which bugs are the good ones?

The Good, The Bug and The Ugly
Bees (the really good guys) play a central roll in pollination, but to do this they need a year round supply of flowers - free from sprays.

Ladybugs (the bug) generally bright red and polka-dotted, they can devour a colony of aphids in no time; even the larvae can devour 100 aphids an hour.

Praying Mantis (good but oh so ugly!) the praying mantis eats many nasty insects which can damage the garden. These predators take out more than just aphids and mites, they can also help you tackle infestations of mosquitoes, houseflies and moths.

After lots of replanting and replacing a very boring collection of box hedges and grasses with fruit, trees, vegetables and flowers we regularly see all three in our garden.

Last year we planted cosmos between all of our apple and pear trees

Why do we encourage these guys (especially the bees)?

The primary motivation for planting a bee friendly garden is our fruit trees and vegetable crops. When we moved in we planted nine apple and pear trees. Not long after they went in the ground we realised that we hadn't seen a single bee in our (very boring) garden. So we did some research and planted as much bee friendly food as we could manage in our relatively small garden.

What's a bee friendly garden?

One rule, and some suggestions.

  • Rule #1 don’t use pesticides. Most pesticides are not selective. By using pesticides, you will kill the good with the bad.
  • Plant local plants, they are attractive to honeybees; and adapted to your soil and climate.
  • Plant a range of colours and flower shapes. Bees have good colour vision. Bees are particularly attracted to blue, purple, violet, white and yellow.
  • Plant flowers in clumps.
  • Provide accessible water. Bees need water. Provide easy access through wet sand or pebbles; do not drown the bees!
  • Plan a garden with a wide range of plants - flowering across all four seasons.

What do our bees eat for lunch?

Ok so here's our menu:
A sample of a bee's menu

  • Lavender
  • Marjoram
  • Rosemary
  • Mints (lots of different types)
  • Pineapple Sage
  • Thymes (at least six different types on offer)
  • Salvias
  • Cosmos
  • Comfrey
  • A selection of fruit trees (apple, pear, lemon and lime)
  • Berries
  • Basil
  • Bottlebrush
  • Hakea
The seasonal menu includes:

  • Tomatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Rockmelon
  • Cucumbers
  • Passionfruit
All of these plants will attract bees and many need bees to ensure their pollination. The Australian Government has published a fantastic bee friendly planting guide, which you can access for free online as a pdf. Here's a sample of one of their planting guides.

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