ZomBEEs Watch - Helping Bees | Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

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Helping Native Bees

Bee a hero! There are over 4,000 species of bees in North America alone, and scientists estimate there are upwards of 500 species in Los Angeles County alone! Many of these bees are very different to the Eurpean honey bee, Apis mellifera, we are all familiar with. Did you know that there are hundreds of species of bees that are solitary (don't live in a hive or colony) and therefore don't sting us to protect their siblings and young?

There are several things you can do to help bees. One of the easiest ways to help is by making your garden more bee friendly. Here are some tips:


Flowers for Food

Bees need flowers for nectar and pollen. Carefully select the plants you choose as bees prefer some flowers over others. They are attracted to flowers that are sweetly scented and have a "landing pad." To support bees native to your area:

  • Plant California native plants or other plants that are adapted to our Mediterranean climate.
  • Choose simple, single flowers with lots of pollen. Flowers bred for larger blossoms and more petals often have less pollen that is buried and more difficult for bees to access.
  • Plan for blooms throughout the year. Here in L.A. we can find bees active almost year round. 

Here's a list of flowering plants that are attracting lots of bees in our new Nature Gardens gardens. California native plants are marked with an asterisk.

*Bush Sunflower, Encelia californica

*Sages, Salvia

*Buckwheats, Eriogonum

*Coyote mint, Monardella

*Yarrows, Achillea

*Monkeyflowers, Mimulus

Cosmos, Cosmos (especially good for sweat bees, family Halictidae)

Lavender, Lavandula

Rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis

A Place to Live

Many bees are solitary and nest in the ground or in wood. You can accommodate these bees by leaving some soil exposed, having a wood pile, or even by building a bee hotel!

Bee Hotels

Bees that nest in wood are common in our area. If you can't leave dead wood in your yard, consider installing a bee hotel. There are many products available on the market, or you can build your own.

Photo taken by Hans Weingartz 


Nesting Sites for Ground Dwelling Bees

Bees in the families Andrenidae and Anthophoridae are called ground nesting bees. To accommodate these bees in your yard, leave some patches of exposed soil. 

(c) gumdropgas @ Flickr.com

Chemicals in Your Garden

Using toxic pesticides and synthetic fertilizers in your garden can be detrimental to bees, other beneficial insects, and other wildlife too. Eliminating use of these products, and choosing organic products instead will decrease harmful effects on wildlife.