Sunday, February 6, 2011


PROJECT: Save the Bees is here!

I think most of the gardener's out there has heard about the plight of the honeybee and whisperings of colony collapse. In the winter of 2006, beekeepers, scientists and farmers worldwide first began to notice that entire colonies of honeybees were vanishing. Several causes were researched for this devastating process. It is thought to be due to multiple factors, with a virus as the main culprit. However, commercial pesticides and bees feeding on only one food source has also been blamed.
If colony collapse continues, and honeybee colonies around the world continue to be wiped out, just think of how devastating this will be to our food supply. Here are some honeybee facts:
- honeybees pollinate 1/3 of food production
- this equals about $15 billion worth of food per year
- 3/4 of all plants rely on pollination
- there are over 90 crops that bees pollinate
- if the world's bee populations continue to decline at current rates, the honeybee will be extinct in 2035

Silence of the Bees is an amazing documentary that was aired in October 2007 on OPB Nature. One of the most disturbing segments of this documentary was near the end when they talked of the consequences of declining bee populations. They showed a village in China where the native bee population had been wiped out years ago by pesticides. This area grows pears as a crop. Today, all of these pear trees are pollinated by hand because they have lost their bee friends. You can click the above link to watch the entire show (50 minutes).

I'm not sure if it's a coincidence or just my imagination, but I've noticed less and less bees in my garden. As a home vegetable gardener, I know the importance of keeping the bees happy and having them return to your garden. I thought it would be nice to start a little project to save the local bee populations within your own communities.

My idea is simple. I bought a packet of bee friendly flowers at the store. It has a ton of seeds in it...way more than I would ever need. I'd like to offer my bee friendly flower seeds to fellow gardeners in the hope that they'll either plant it in their own gardens to encourage the bees in their community and/or share them with more people. It would be cool if each of you pay it forward by doing the same, but not required.

Hopefully by doing just a little, we can help save the bees! You don't have to be a vegetable gardener to enjoy the bee friendly flowers. You can also plant these flowers in pots on your deck or balcony. If you plant them, they (bees) will come!!
To Participate in PROJECT: Save the Bees:
If you'd like to participate in your own bee friendly flower giveaway, post an announcement on your blog about the project and what you are giving away and/or your rules. Commit to the following:
1) Purchase a seed packet of bee friendly flowers and figure out how many people you'd like to share with
2) Announce the project on your blog/website and offer the seeds to others (starting Sunday, Feb 6th)
3) Link your post back to this post
4) Mail your seeds to your people
5) Update your original post with a list of places you mailed your seeds

If you need ideas of bee friendly flowers, see the links below.
Creating Buzz, Audubon Magazine

The articles above also have great ideas on how to keep the bees happy in your garden! I have found that bees in my garden love lavender, lilac, marigolds and cosmos. In fact, I planted cosmos in my raised beds last year (next to pollinating dependent veggies). This year I'll save room and plant them in pots next to these veggies!

To Win My Seeds:
There's nothing to it really, just be one of the first 6 comments to this post. Be sure to include the following information:
1) Post one comment answering the following question: What flowers do you notice that make bees happy?
2) Post a followup comment with your email address (I will delete this second entry to keep your privacy)

I will only mail seeds within the USA (sorry international visitors, international rules make it difficult to share).

I am offering a small sample of each of the following seeds:

1) Bee's Friend (2011 Seed Savers Exchange) - Annual
- subtle lavender-blue flowers with curved spikes; beautiful when sown in drifts
- self seeding annual; grows to 12-24" tall; hardy to zone 0
- sowing: direct sow after the last frost; isn't fussy about soil type (but can't grow in shade and does require good drainage & moist soil); cover with 1/8 inch of soil
- thinning: thin to about 4-12 inches apart
- location: full sun
- germination: 7-12 days
- German flower called "bienenfreund" that literally translates to "bee's friend"
- huge attractant for bees of all kinds in the garden
- easy to grow anywhere, from Alaska to the South

2) Dwarf Sensation Mixed Cosmos (2010 Ed Hume Seeds) - Annual
- very easy to grow from seed and quick to flower
- long growing season in shades of carmine, pink, pink blush and white
- grows only 2 feet tall; no staking needed
- sowing: broadcast seeds into desired planting spot after all danger of frost has passed or start indoors in individual posts 3-4 weeks before the last frost; cover seeds with 1/8 inch of soil
- thinning: when seedlings are 2 inches tall, thin to 12 inches apart; you can carefully replant thinned plants
- location: row in full sun or part sun and shade in well drained soil
- germination: 7-10 days at 70 degrees

Good luck and if you are able to, I would love to see you link up! I think this is a fairly easy and fun way to SAVE THE BEES!!! Add your link below!


fer said...

this is a very good idea! I am sure a lot of people and bees will benefit from your giveaway
by the way, back in my country, bees always seem to love the lemon and the orange trees

meemsnyc said...

Hi Holly,
I still have to write my post but I'm participating in Project Save the Bees.

I'm going to offer Foxglove and Hollyhock. Let me know if you want to swap for those.
Oh, and thanks for your offer of Thyme. I would love exchange for those seeds.
Can you send me an email here? I have a lot of veggie seeds you might be interested in also.


Malay-Kadazan girl said...

I am contemplating to plant cosmos this year. But see how the plan works for autumn planting. Bees went crazy with our poppy last spring so that will be tha main. Thank you for hosting.

~TastyTravels~ said...

fer - I'll bet the bees love lemon and orange trees! I tried to grow a mandarin orange tree a few years back but being such a rookie gardener, I forgot about checking the zone I was in. It turns out citrus trees don't do well in Zone 7 (my zone). You have to bring them inside. I had planted it in the ground.

meemsnyc - I'd love to have you play with us! I've never grown foxglove or hollyhocks before. I will email you about the thyme! However, I just read that if you plant thyme from seed, you shouldn't harvest it aggressively the first year but let it settle in. Maybe next year?? =0)

Malay-Kadazan girl - Cosmos have a long growing season. They tend to get droopy with not enough water and benefit greatly from consistent dead-heading of spent flowers. Sometimes I leave the droopy flowers on the plant because the bees love them so much. I don't have the heart to cut all of the spent flowers at a time and leave the bees with no flowers. You should try some of the dwarf varieties. They're manageable in containers even.

Judy T said...

What fun. I found you through Meemsnyc and would love to play along. Last year we planted Bee Balm, Lavender hyssop and echinacea (purple coneflower). the bees loved them all. I'll get a post up soon and link back.
Thanks for hosting!

The author said...

It seems like our wild bees enjoy my marigolds, daylilies, and dandelions! alot. Not that I garden dandelions, they just show up! Excellent project/giveaway.

~TastyTravels~ said...

Please continue to leave comments to win my seed giveaway. Some of the above are international visitors. While I would love to mail them out, international rules make it difficult. Boo!!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful idea! Thanks for coming up with it...I have just written my post, & hopefully we can spread some bee love around!

circulating said...

what a wonderful idea and how nice of you to share with us and help the bees at the same time...!!

bees seem to love the monardo I planted year before last... they kept it covered this past summer all the time it was blooming and I loved watching them work...

Katie Flickinger said...

Loved your idea so I made a post of my own! Thanks for doing this - it's awesome!

~TastyTravels~ said...

Hanni & Katie-thanks for participating! You're awesome!

circulating-I planted that one year and it was pretty! I think I may try again!

Donna said...

Holly, I had to wait until my Friday post which I edited to add this wonderful I am linked and ready...I will also be posting more on Facebook about this..thx for starting away Cosmos and Zinnias ...

~TastyTravels~ said...

Thanks again for the great turnout for this project! I have addresses for meemsnyc, Hanni, circulating & Donna. I've gotten an email for Katie. I still need email's or addresses for freezerful & the author. Please contact me so I can mail your seeds!