80613thumbThere is so much more to gardening than mere horticulture. There is so much more to horticulture than mere plant life. Plants get eaten by insects and animals, and also take advantage of insects and animals for pollination and dispersion of seed. Some of us who enjoy gardening also like to attract some types of animals and insects to our gardens because they are nice to have around.

The birds and the bees, as well as butterflies, squirrels, lizards, snakes and other small animals add color, motion and vibrancy to the garden. Destructive animals like gophers, rats and deer, and cumbersomely big animals like moose and bears, are not so popular. Mosquitoes and flies are the sorts of insects that we would like to repel with aromatic herbs. Some but not all are welcome.

‘Pollinator’ flowers have become a fad recently, not only to attract bees, but also to provide them with more of what some believe they are lacking out in the wild. There is certainly nothing wrong with attracting bees. Those who are enslaved in honey production are best! Children learn as much about nature from bees as from other wildlife. The soft hum of big herds of bees is quite nice.

Beyond that, we should think outside the box of our home gardens. The unnatural disruption of local ecology can not be repaired by throwing more unnatural resources at it. Honeybees who were imported to make honey are not native, but displaced and interbred with natives enough to interfere with their natural pollinating behavior, as well as their resistance and susceptibility to disease.

Almost all plants in urban as well as agricultural areas were imported too. They were perpetuated until they dominated the localized ecosystems. There is now much more flora in places like the Los Angeles Basin and the Santa Clara Valley than there has ever been before! There is no shortage of bloom for bees. In fact, there is an overabundance of bloom potentially distracting bees from pollinating native specie who need them. Invasive exotic eucalypti might enjoy their popularity at the expense of California poppy.

8 thoughts on “The Birds And The Bees

  1. I’d never thought about the fact that there are native and non-native bees, until some of my native plant friends began posting about the ways they have for encouraging the native bees, especially the solitary ones who prefer to nest in old wood and such. “Wildscaping,” that new term that’s so in favor now, at least has the advantage of taking into consideration the kinds of issues you raise here.

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    1. There used to be a big plaque on a big stone monument at the Mineta Airport in San Jose identifying the spot where honeybees were imported from Paraguay a very long time ago. I do not remember where they originated prior to Paraguay. The airport was somehow built around the site, which was right where passengers got dropped off for departing flights. However, the plaque was removed when the new airport was built on the site.


  2. One of the reasons why I try to grow some native wildflowers, and am not too fussy about pulling up weeds (which are often just native wildflowers by another name…) It took a couple of years before we even saw any honeybees but there have always been various other species visiting us.

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    1. We have TWO hives in the same old building at work! Because honeybees are having so much difficulty here, a local beekeeper is pleased to rehome the bees. We would like to keep them on site, even if just in a hollow tree, but they could be a liability in an area that is open to so many guests. They will likely go to an apple orchard near Watsonville.


  3. I never thought about the possibility that the honeybees who visit my garden might be distracted from pollinating some species that need them… Are yellow jackets more native as pollinators go? We have a lot of those, too, but I certainly enjoy the non-native honeybees a lot more!

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    1. Yes. The Monterey pine, which is a common timber crop and naturalized exotic in some regions there is native just a few miles away from here. (It is naturally endemic to only three very distinct colonies on the coast here. Monterey cypress is also native to Monterey County to the south of here. It is funny to see them in pictures of Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.


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