The Bee Banquet

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Surely everyone knows by now about the bee/pollinator crisis, and all I plan to mention here is that we gardeners can do a bit to maintain the bees that we have left. If you want your fruit trees and squash to bear, then bees are a personal issue for you, and the best things that you can do for them are garden without any insecticide sprays (the drift from which can spread a long way and is very toxic to bees) and feed them. This year I’ve managed to keep a succession of plants blooming that are attractive to bees, but by far their favorite is the common Shirley poppy, available in nearly every seed catalog. While the weather is still cold, scatter the fine tiny seed around in spots where the poppies can get big and bushy in midsummer, keep the area watered and weeded, and let them do their effulgently gorgeous thing. I scatter the seeds around my tomato bed in late winter, they hog the bed in June, and then can be pulled out after blooming to give the tomatoes breathing room. Every morning they lift my spirits twice: first when I catch sight of them and again when I get closer and hear the continual hum of bees working. I am thinking of getting a beehive so that the third thrill can occur when I see them filling combs.
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I should add that the leaves of Papaver rhoeas are edible in cooked greens mixtures, but they are no great shakes, so think of this plant as food for the bees, not you.

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