Balance Starts With "Bee"

This morning, I was out under the plum tree enjoying the pond (as I often do daily). With camera in hand, I was paying more attention to the buzz of life around me on a summer day than I was on shooting photos. I did photograph the plethora of lily pads that the water lily has produced, floating on the pond's surface. Then I noticed that one of the honeybees was buzzing around a lily pad looking for a landing spot to get a drink, and it reminded me of another reason I'm glad I have this pond.

Many of you may not know that Rosehaven Cottage's gardens are certified as an "NWF Certified Wildlife Habitat" with the National Wildlife Federation. It's really a relatively easy process to become certified once you've changed your gardening focus over to the 5 essentials required for certification:
  • Food Sources. For example: native plants, seeds, fruits, nuts, berries, nectar
  • Water Sources. For example: birdbath, pond, water garden, stream
  • Place for Cover. For example: Thicket, rockpile, birdhouse
  • Places to Raise Young. For example: Dense shrubs, vegetation, nesting box, pond
  • Sustainable Gardening. For example: Mulch, compost, rain garde, chemical-free fertilizer
Because the elements can be both big and small, even a balcony or patio garden can become certified.

I dug our pond in such a way so that it would have a gentle river rock beach on one side for critters to come down and get a drink. There are lots of rock protrusions for birds and creatures to get a footing and splash in the recirculating water that runs over the rocks adjacent to the pond's "beach".

The slope is boggy and in full sun so I have canna lilies, potted Japanese water lilies, and lemon balm growing along the "beach" that provide cover for the critters.

The unplanned bonus of this design has been the honeybees! Every day, particularly in the warmer months, honeybees come from wherever their hives are and drink from the water on the "beach" side of the pond. The area is literally buzzing with activity everyday while the sun is shining.

I've had a number of visitors to the garden look in horror at the "beach" with all the bees and paper wasps buzzing about and say, "Oh my! You've got a yellow-jacket problem!"

Then I kindly explain the difference between paper wasps and yellow-jackets--how the paper wasps are so non-aggressive that they won't even sting me if I knock down one of their paper-like honeycomb nests.

I also explain (and often demonstrate) that I can walk right out on the rocks through the buzzing activity and step into the pond to perform maintenance. I'm usually met with looks of astonishment.

How come I don't get stung repeatedly?

Well, when bees are focused on drinking water that's what they're focused on... water. They are visitors on turf that isn't their hive, and they know it. If I came to their hive and started jostling them about, then it would be a different story. Even though there are a large number of bees on the water's edge, they aren't swarming (a behavior associated with hive defense and colony relocation). They aren't agitated, and as long as I don't step on one or have one fly down my shirt and get scared (that's only happened once), they leave me alone as if they were a bunch of butterflies.

I've been highly fortunate to have these wonderful pollinators in my garden year after year. They have blessed us with wonderful produce: tomatoes, beans, mandarins, strawberries, pomegranates, lemons, zucchini, squash, cucumbers, and plums. And I always plant some flowers just for the bees and the butterflies as a repayment for their services.

Yes, balance definitely starts with "bee".

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  1. Bravo! I didn't even think about the fact that bees might get thirsty, thanks for the education. I would love to get my yard certified, I have all of those requirements now.

  2. Excellent post. I never gave much thought to where bees and other insects can drink, either. Your pond is lovely.

  3. Great post. I have to explain over and over that the bees won't hurt us if we stay away from the hive and don't swat at them.

  4. Great post, Cindy! I know how the Cabbage White butterflies are, right after I've done watering in the gardens. They congregate in large groups and drink. I've yet to see them in the pond, though. Maybe they're scared of the frogs.

    I imagine our yard would qualify to be a certified habitat. We already are a certified Monarch Waystation. I'll have to check on it!

  5. Well Cindy you got it right - balance starts with BEE-haviour -of the gardener.

    I had 2 beehives when I was a boy and was fascinated by the bees- they only stung if I accidentally squeezed one.

    I have clients telling me they want lots of flowers in their gardens - but none that attracts bees! People can´t even tell the difference between bees and yellow-jackets!

  6. Cindy, I'm speechless... your writing is so beautiful. I love your bee-utiful outlook. Thanks for sharing with us.
    Love you, YFA

  7. Hia Cindy- catching up- love your sunset. We're west coast too in the UK so lots of watery sunsets.

    It's brilliant that you can have a certification -there's nothing like that here. I have quite a few different varities of bee visiting the lavender at the moment. While I'm picking it to dry, I try to work around them and leave flowers for them. My Nana always said to tell your news to the bees. People can have such different attitudes to them. I read somewhere that if bees died out then mankind would too within 7 years as we are dependant on them to fertilise crops. If true, what a sobering thought next time chemicals are sprayed on crops.

  8. I never knew anything about certified nature gardens. Very interesting!

    I enjoyed your walk along the shore in the last post. So very peaceful!

  9. Cindy, this is so interesting! I didn't know we could get our property certified in this way!

    You are truly a naturalist and I think maybe you should write a book about Rosehaven Cottage, since you also write so well.

    And yes, thank goodness we have bees for pollination; it's a real concern that so many are sick and dying, as they are so important to the food chain!

    Thanks for an excellent post! :)

  10. I always enjoying visiting your site
    to see what lovely photos you
    have posted. :)


  11. Wow, I didn't know that. It makes sense. I'm very scary of bees and wasps.

    That's excellent about your gardens.

  12. Great photos! People are always nervous around the bees in my garden too. They don't believe me when I tell them I just have to go in there with them if I'm going to weed the flower beds.

  13. Hello is so nice to meet another bee person....I cater for the bees in my garden, especially my beloved bumblebees....

    A beautiful post....I to work around bees and have never had a problem to date....they are lovely creatures and deserve respect.......we need our bees....I love your pond by the way......

  14. I'm so fascinated by your picture of bees drinking. I never thought about how/where bees get water...

    All of your pictures are so serene and soothing. I feel calmer just looking at them.


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