Sunflowers are laden with pollen. The U.K. Royal Horticultural Society selected the Lemon Queen variety as the sunflower of choice for honeybees. | Credit: Courtesy

The Beekeepers Guild of Santa Barbara is inviting residents to nominate their neighbors’ gardens — or their own — to win one of 10 coveted “Plant Bee Friendly” awards. The community competition for green thumbs and hobbyist landscapers is a chance to showcase their work while supplying nectar and pollen for local pollinators.

“You don’t have to be a beekeeper to help the bees!” said Laurie Rasmussen, president of the guild. “Healthy gardens are essential to the survival of our pollinators, especially in urban areas where flowering plants may not be readily available.”

In order to qualify, the nominee’s garden should contain the following:

• Flowering plants, shrubs, or trees that are attractive to pollinators (plants with year-round or successive blooms are preferable)

• Organic and pesticide-free growth

• A variety of flowers and colors to attract a variety of pollinators (Not all bees are the same!)

• A clean source of fresh water

• Drought-tolerant, California-native plants if possible

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Entries must be received by May 15 and can be submitted at Winners will be announced October 11 during the Beekeepers Guild’s annual Harvest Festival.

A few tips to keep in mind while picking bee-friendly plants:

• Bees have their favorite plants. Many plants are “bee friendly” but not all are “bee favorites.”

• Bees have favorite colors, too. The like blue and purple best, followed by yellow, and then white.

• Bees need floral resources all year long. Some plants have bloom periods as short as two weeks while others bloom for months.

• Clusters of plants are much more attractive to bees than single specimens planted throughout your garden.


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