How Trees Support Bees

We know trees are great for wildlife and improve your home property value in more ways than one. We also know that pollinators (especially bees) support Earth’s ecosystems in essential ways. But what’s behind the relationship between bees and trees (aside from the fact that they rhyme)? And how do trees beneficially impact our famously busy friends?

Trees Provide Food and Nutrients

Perhaps most importantly, the nutrients in the nectar and pollen of some trees’ flowers provide the food bees need, as well as the raw materials for making honey.

Though many people focus on planting flower gardens to attract these pollinators, trees provide an abundance of blossoms in one place. In fact, bees may be able to gather as much food from a single tree as they could from an entire field of wildflowers. Especially for those with minimal yard space, trees will have the honeycombs humming with five-flower reviews from all of your block’s bees.

If you want to set up a bountiful buffet for your neighborhood buzzers, here are some bee-friendly trees that you can consider:

Give Bees Shelter

When asked the question, “Where do bees live?” most of us may leap to answer, “Beehives, of course!” After all, that’s where Winnie the Pooh went looking for his honey. (And yes, bears really do love honey, though they feast on the rest of what’s inside the hives too.)

But in truth, over 70% of North American bees actually nest underground.

For those that live above ground however, trees are essential for shelter — particularly after the trees are dead. When birds go after insects that have burrowed into dead wood, the holes they create make perfect little shelters for cavity-nesting bees to lay their eggs. Many tunnel-nesting bees bore directly into the dead wood, which means you may consider leaving dead branches or logs alone, unless they become a safety hazard. Tree hollows also provide excellent homes for bee colonies, as their thick walls shield against extreme heat and cold.

But the trees in your yard can protect bees even if they aren’t living there. Strong winds can easily blow foraging bees far from home. Evergreen conifers like the Canadian Hemlock can provide an excellent windbreak, keeping your bees where they belong.

Besides directly providing housing or protection, trees help bee colonies stay healthy in another way. Sap and resin from trees supply important ingredients for propolis: a material bees make to secure, waterproof and sterilize the inside of the nest — shoring up the shelter to protect their eggs.

Bees are one of the most important pollinators when it comes to producing our food. In fact, one out of every three bites of food we eat is the result of pollination. For help maintaining your trees — or guidance on planting new ones — in order to support your neighborhood bee population, call (404) 252-6448 to speak to one of our experts. You can also schedule a consultation with us online.

How to Deal with a High-Maintenance Tree

Not all trees are total divas. The amount of maintenance a tree may require often depends on several factors, including the individual species, quality of your soil, hardiness zone, and the amount of rainfall and sunlight your yard receives each day. Though some of these elements may be beyond your control, there are several steps you can take on your own to tend to even the fussiest fir or high-maintenance hemlock.

Roll Up Your Sleeves

A tree is often labeled “high maintenance” if it requires a great deal of cleanup. The Southern Magnolia is a perfect example, as it drops its leaves throughout the year. Other frequently-shedding trees include the sweetgum, sycamore, and Eastern cottonwood.

All of these trees may be a bad choice if you’re expecting a country club-pristine yard year-round, but don’t shun them straightaway. Regular raking, for example, provides a great opportunity to get some exercise and enjoy some fresh air at the same time. And letting the leaves lie where they land can actually be beneficial to your yard and trees, particularly if you use a mulching mower to chop them up after they’ve hit the ground.

Do Much with Mulch

There’s an abundance of opinions out there when it comes to mulching, including what your mulch should contain, how wide (or thick) your coverage should be, and whether or not it’s necessary at all. But proper mulching can protect your tree against both heat and cold, retain valuable nutrients, and provide moisture and warmth. There are some recommended guidelines about when it’s best to mulch, so turn to the experts for advice in that department.

Give Her a Sweater

Though Georgia is far from Montana when it comes to winter temperatures, if your tree is sensitive to the cold, it may need an extra boost during the chilly months. Tree wrapping is one way to protect trees against sunscald, salt splash from the roadway, and bark stripping from hungry wildlife. But be careful not to wrap your little princess too tightly, or leave the wrapping on for longer than necessary.

Cold snaps can also endanger new plant roots, inhibit water uptake, crack bark, and kill tender new growth. Carefully covering small trees and sensitive shrubs with burlap or other sturdy fabric can keep them insulated until the temperature warms again in spring.

Fuss with Fertilizer

Perhaps more persnickety than the tree itself, fertilizer guidelines can require dedicated concentration. In many cases, your tree may not need fertilizer at all. But if it does, you’ll want to ensure that the fertilizer you choose contains the right balance of three main macronutrients: potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus. We’ve provided a comprehensive guide to selecting fertilizer on our website, as well as a walkthrough of why and when it may be helpful for your trees.

Depending on your willingness to dedicate time and energy to your trees, there are some species you just may want to avoid altogether. But if you really love a tree, you can make it work — with the right help. Our certified arborists are ready to assist with even the most complex care, including pruning, trimming, and even moving a tree to a new location. Call us at (404) 252-6448 or connect with us online to discuss the best maintenance for all your trees — whether high-maintenance or not.