A bumblebee on DAboecia cantabrica alba heather variety. (submitted)

A bumblebee on DAboecia cantabrica alba heather variety. (submitted)

Heather Society event in Cowichan aims at bee friendly gardens

Did you know that there are over 200 species of native bees on Vancouver Island?

By Elaine Scott

Did you know that there are over 200 species of native bees on Vancouver Island and that this includes about 14 different species of bumble bees? Did you also know that a large number of these species are ground and wood tunnel nesters? So, in order to create a bee friendly garden not only do you need to think about the environment you need to create to attract ground and wood tunnel nesters but also you need to think about what types of plants you should have in your garden.

One large group of plants that bees love is the group of plants that we refer to as heathers. Have you ever watched the bees working heathers on a nice sunny day in February? It is a wonderful sight at that time of the year. As the different heather species and varieties come into flower you can have the bees busy working around them right up until the early fall. Heathers are a great addition to a bee friendly garden.

They are also great workhorse plants that add much interest to the garden and are relatively resistant to deer. As an example, many varieties change their foliage to very bright colours during the winter which will give you lovely bright splashes of reds and oranges in your garden during a time when the garden really needs colour. You can also choose heathers based on their foliage colour which can range from greens to yellow to bronze and many shades in between. As well, there are several varieties that develop beautifully coloured spring tips.

Not only can you provide foliage colour and structure to your garden with heathers, but also if you choose the species and varieties carefully you can have flowers from January to December. This particular feature is what will help make your garden bee friendly.

One would not want to have a monoculture in their garden and the bees would not like that as well. So, try to plant other types of plants that will attract a wide variety of pollinators to your garden. There are a wide variety to choose from including many of our native flowering plants.

The Vancouver Island Heather Society is hosting just the event to help you to learn the best ways of attracting bees and other pollinators to your garden. On Saturday, Oct. 14, at 2 p.m., at the Duncan United Church Hall, 246 Ingram St., Ted Leischner will provide you with an overview of the causes of pollinator decline and how you can help by creating a pollinator friendly environment in your garden. There will be plenty of time for questions and answers following Leischner’s overview. Leischner has extensive knowledge and experience and has devoted his retirement years to utilizing this knowledge and experience to try to reverse the demise of our native pollinators. His energy is boundless and his enthusiasm addictive.

Tickets will cost $5 and are available at the door.

Elaine Scott is a member of the Vancouver Island Heather Society.


A bee enjoys a rhododendron flower. (submitted)

A bee enjoys a rhododendron flower. (submitted)