August 21, 2014: Create a bee and butterfly friendly yard

Some people might call my yard a bit of a mess, and the truth is, it is a mess.  There are little trees growing where there shouldn’t be, thanks to the squirrels who bury and lose their nuts and there are weeds and plenty of them.  I like my yard to be natural and wild to attract all sorts of creatures.  We have two chipmunks, a ridiculous amount of squirrels, some raccoons and a myriad of nesting birds. Despite my best efforts to keep things natural, there is still more work to be done to attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies to my yard.

I have two apple trees that are about six years old and for the first time, this year they did not bare any fruit. This spring was cool and did not bring many bees.  After the harsh winter and ongoing problems with colony collapse disorder (which is now mostly being blamed on the use of pesticides) Ontario is estimated to have lost 60% of it’s bee populations this winter.  For the  plants that require pollination to grow their fruits and vegetables this an increasing problem.  Bees are not the only pollinators, but they are the most efficient ones.  I’m not a bee expert and don’t know the difference between a honeybee, bumblebee or mason bee, but I do know that I need more bees.  I have lots of flowers that attract bees but I could still use more.  I’ll work on expanding my flower varieties next year.They especially love my wild mint:

bee mint

I ordered a little mason bee house online from  Look how happy he is with his bee houses!  They are best placed facing morning sun and in a wind protected spot… I did the best I could with that.  Here is my house.  



I hope that if not this year for hibernation then in the in spring my house will have some new guests. 

Although bees are the most efficient pollinators, butterflies also do their pretty little best to help out. This year I have had quite a few different varieties of butterflies around but absolutely none of the once populous monarch butterfly. The main host plant for monarchs to lay their eggs is the milkweed.  Milkweed is a common sight in rural areas but not urban ones.  I’ve never seen any for sale so I stole some from my parent’s house.  It must have come with an egg on it already because after a couple of weeks, look!

monarch caterpillar

Not much will happen with it this year but in the spring i expect they will grow taller and spread and hopefully they will have some butterflies of their own. 

If I don’t get any apples next year I’m going to be pissed. 






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