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How to Create a Bee-Friendly Garden

We’ve all heard about the declining bee population, mainly due to habitat loss. But you can make a big difference in your own backyard with a bee-friendly garden and more: BEE HOUSE BLUE PRINTS: • For your house walls: Use an empty milk carton (waterproof) with the spout cut off — leave the bottom intact — or a box about that size made of wood scraps (not cedar). • Paint a wooden house a bright colour with exterior zero-or low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint. If you plan to make more than one bee house, be sure they’re different colours. • Fill the box with layered stacks of brown paper nest tubes (available at garden stores). Cut the tubes to 6 inches long, close the end with tape or a staple, or fold them in half. Visit to learn how to make your own nest tubes from scratch. • Hang the house somewhere out of the rain, facing south or east, at eye level, once the temperature outside has warmed to 12-14º C. • Dig down below your garden soil adjacent to your bee house until you expose the clay layer, or keep a bowl of moist clay near your bee house for the mason species to use as construction material. • It may take a full season for the bees to find your house. No luck? You can also purchase mason bees from a garden store or local bee keeper. À LA CARTE FOR BEES • Bees eat two things: nectar and pollen • Choose a variety of plants that flower at different times so there’s always a snack available. • Some flowers are sterile and of little use to pollinators. Native plants or heirloom varieties are best. • Blue, purple, violet, white and yellow flowers are bees’ favourite colours. • Bee-navigation friendly: Plant flowers of a single species in clumps about 4ft in diameter – easy to find. • All bees have different tongue lengths, so a variety of flower shapes will benefit a diversity of bees.  Texts excerpted from The David Suzuki Foundation: