Save Water and Local Pollinators With ‘Bee-Friendly’ Lawns

November 3, 2014 Updated: November 3, 2014

LOS ANGELES—Pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, affect 35 percent of the world’s food production, according to a recent study published in the Royal Society’s biological sciences journal.

These pollinators are decreasing in number, even more so in California where the drought has caused a shortage of food for them. 

People around the country are becoming more concerned about these pollinators and the agricultural systems that rely on them. 

Bee Lawns

Southern California residents can both save water and help pollinators during the drought by replanting or supplanting turf lawns with plants that pollinators like and that don’t need a lot of water.

“Most bees are attracted to almost anything that flowers. Usually the sweet-smelling fragrance attracts more bees,” said Alvin Toma, owner of the plant nursery Present Perfect.

The humble clover is a favorite of bees. It grows low, so it requires less mowing than a traditional grass lawn and it is also drought-resistant and self-fertilizing. 

Herbs such as rosemary, sage, and thyme are also drought resistant, and can be used for cooking as well.

Plant Flowers

The California State Beekeepers Association recommends local bee favorites that are also beautiful such as poppies, sunflowers, mallow, sage, buckwheat, lavender, and yarrow.

Even so-called weeds like dandelions are excellent sources of food for bees. 

“Plant flowers. That will help bee-keepers all over the country and all over the world,” said Bill Lewis, California State Beekeepers Association president.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota are doing just that by studying lawn-seed combinations that are low-maintenance, pollinator-friendly, and use native plants.

Beekeepers recommend avoiding pesticides on lawns and in gardens because they may harm bees and other pollinators.

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