Things You Will Needpaper, pencil, shovel, gloves
Step 1Choose the size and location of your bee haven. Where you live is going to play a part in determining the size and placement of your new bee haven. If you are in a tightly knit subdivision, your haven may confined to a back corner of a small yard. If you live in the country with lots of land, you may choose to dedicate half an acre to your new bee haven. Whether large or small, the steps to follow will be the same.
Step 2Design the layout. Draw an outline of the area you have to work with. If possible, make 3-5 copies of this outline so you can 'tryout' different designs on paper before actually planting. In your design, you may use general headings such as 'tree', 'shrub', 'flowering plant', or 'ground cover' and then fill in the specific types later. Or if you know the types of plants/trees you wish to use, go ahead and write them in on your design. By seeing them on paper, you will get an overall 'feel' for how the haven is going to look. Once you are happy with the design, go to step 3.
Step 3Gather your plants. There are tons of plants to choose from when attempting to satisfy the honey bee. If you are in the country, you may choose a location that already has a mature tree growing in it. You can incorporate it (build your haven around it) to add depth and maturity to the new haven. If you are on a budget, you can find many of the plants you may choose growing naturally out in the countyside that may be dug up and transplanted. Otherwise, your selections may be found at your local nursery, coop, or home garden center. Choosing native species will increase the likelihood of plant survival and reduce complications in maintenance. For trees, some good selections include: fruit trees (apple, plum, cherry, pear, peach, etc), nut trees (almond, pecan, cashew, etc), and flowering trees such as redbuds, dogwoods, etc. For shrubs, some good selections include: Black Elderberry, Oregon Grape, Western Redbud, Mt. Mahogony, Toyon, Bladderpod, Silverleaf, Chaparrel Current, Evergreen currant, Mint Bush Sage, Coyote Mint, Coyote Brush, Black Sage, Texas Sage, Regosa Rose, Sunshine Blueberry, California Rose, Coffeberry, Greek Myrtle, Hollyleaf Cherry, Bee's Bliss Sage, St. Catherine's Lace, and Pozo Blue Sage. For plants, honey bees enjoy flowering plants like Coneflowers, Starthistle, Bindweed, Pussywillow, Washington Thorn, and American Linden. They also enjoy summer crops of watermelon, cantelope and squash. For ground cover, you will find that Rosada Corral Bells, Dwarf Plumbago, Dwarf Oregano, Purple Dome Aster, Mexican Daisy, Silver Carpet Aster, Deer Weed, Clover and Mother of Thyme make great bee attractions.
Begin planting. If you are filling up half and acre with plants, you will want to till the land first to get it workable. If you are working with a small corner in a back yard then just a shovel should do the trick. Follow the recommended planting instructions for each type of plant and be sure to water them real good. If you are transplanting plants from other natural areas, plant to the same depth they were when you dug them up.
Step 5Add a water source to your bee haven. Water is critical for bees. Not only do they need it to quench their thirst but they use it to cool their bee hives! They transport water back and put it in the bottom of the nests. As the day heats up, evaporation causes the water vapors to rise, cooling the hive as it passes.
Relax and enjoy your new creation! Check the bee haven on a regular basis to see how many bees it is attracting. The plants listed above are favorites to honey bees, but you will find other species enjoy them just as well.
The honey bee population needs our help. With each new bee haven that is created we are taking another small step in reversing the trend of the declining bees and ultimately improving the status of our bee colonies worldwide. It's a very satisfying accomplishment and the bees appreciate it!
Tips & Warnings
Try not to use insecticides if you can help it. Organic is healthier.
Use kitchen scraps, leaves, grass clippings, etc for a natural compost.