Intro: Humans have been using bees for thousands of years in agriculture. They are successful pollinators that help increase fruit and vegetable production. You may be frightened that bees may sting you, but they shouldn’t sting you if you leave them alone. Because of their constant buzzing, bees may make sitting on your balcony uncomfortable, but they are beneficial in a balcony garden.
Scientific Name: Various genera and species
Habitat: Common honeybees (also called Western and European bees) have been released into the United States to help increase crop yields. Bees live on every continent except Antarctica. There are more than 20,000 species of bees, so you will have no problem attracting a local species to your balcony container garden if you grow plants that attract bees.
How to Attract: Because balconies are such small spaces, you will probably just want to grow container plants that bees will visit, not offer them places to nest. About 85 percent of bees nest in the ground, so look out for them in your plant containers. They will nest under mulch, so if you have mulch in your plant containers, be aware that bees might be living underneath it. (Mulch is beneficial for keeping out weeds, conserving water and keeping plants healthy.)
The more native plants and the more diversity you have when it comes to types of plants, the more likely you are to attract bees. Choose container plants that have a variety of colors and flower shapes. Plants that attract bees produce pollen and nectar. Remember that many hybrid flowers produce less pollen and nectar. The following container plants will attract bees.
Misc. Info: Recently there has been a lot of discussion about why bee populations are dwindling. Colony collapse disorder (CCD) causes 30 to 70 percent of a colony to die – worker bees just simply disappear. More than 30 percent of our food production relies on the pollination of honeybees, so it is important for scientists to find the cause of this disorder. The latest research suggests that CCD is caused by a virus (invertebrate iridescent virus type 6) and a fungus (Nosema caranae) that infect the bee at the same time. More research is needed to see if any other factors are involved.