100 Plants to Feed the Bees, by the Xerces Society (2016)

100 Plants to Feed the Bees, by the Xerces SocietyAs I live in an area known for its bountiful harvests, and I am building a vegetable garden, it’s a no-brainer that my flower garden needs to include lots of pollinator attractants. For this reason, my annual garden book selection for your New Year is about attracting bees. This new title from the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation is aimed at gardeners and farmers in the US and most of Canada, excluding the far north. The subtitle, “Provide a Healthy Habitat to Help Pollinators Thrive,” is a bit misleading, since the focus of the book is a list of bee-friendly plants, rather than considering all aspects of a habitat. Still, the premise is simple – plant lots of flowers and don’t damage or kill the native plants. The guide opens with a very brief overview of the pioneer students of “pollinator habitats,” including Canadian Dr. Eva Crane, who wrote Directory of Important World Honey Sources, among other titles. Like Rachel Carson, David Suzuki, and John Muir, these activists devoted their lives to raising awareness of humans’ damaging impact on our environment. They were the first to recognise the importance of insect health for pollination, and of habitat to support insect populations. Readers then learn the science of pollination and flower physiology followed by the role of bees, who offers plants a symbiotic relationship as they gather pollen for their own use while serving to propagate the plants at the same time. So what attracts a bee to a plant? In short – fragrance, nectar and colour. The guide presents 100 of the best bee-attracting plants for your garden’s consideration, organised for easy browsing into native plants, trees and shrubs, herbs and introduced ornamentals, and pasture plants appropriate for farms and “tough sites.” Each entry includes the common and latin name, a colour photo, a short description about the plant, its uses for humans, recommended varieties, and a North American map indicating where it will grow best. Typical growing information (bloom time, size, sun and soil preferences) for each plant is listed across the bottom of the entry. Icons indicate the pollinators it is likely to attract, from moths and butterflies to bees, wasps, and hummingbirds. New gardeners will enjoy learning about classic beauties like bee balm and spiderwort, while more experienced gardeners will delight in discovering the potential of a very pretty plant like wild buckwheat. A short appendix provides the number of seeds per pound for each plant – useful for those wanting to seed a large area. My thanks to Storey Publishing for the advance reading copy provided through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
More discussion and reviews of this book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33237353


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