In May, my garden was THE place to be if you were a carpenter bee or a bumble bee or any number of small wild bees to numerous for me to name. You see, I let my beds go to "weed." Or rather, I let the wild-growing plants flower while the soil warmed and dried out enough to spade.
The bees particularly liked the deadnettle blooming in the aisles between the beds and, in some cases, growing up the sides and across the top. Some folks call this a "weed" but I've got a problem with labeling plants that way. You see, deadnettles (in the mint family) are an early-blooming favorite of the local bumble bees.
The only problem I have with weeds is that they grow where I want to plant something else. The problem with labeling them "weeds" is that people forget they are simply growing where you don't want them to be, and take drastic actions to get rid of them.
Still, I did have to reclaim my beds for tomatoes and beans, but even as I pulled out dandelions and other weeds, I left a few for the bees.
This pretty little blue flower is Speedwell (Veronica sp) ~ it seems to attract small bees and flies. I have read that rabbits like to eat it, but there better not be rabbits in my garden!
One pretty little invader (from the British Isles about 200 years ago) is Creeping Charlie, also known as Gill-over-the-Ground. It's been used as a medicinal herb and, as Christy Mihaly and I note in Diet for a Changing Climate, you can add it to soup. But in our area it grows a little too well, escaping into the lawn and taking over gardens without so much as a how-do-you-do.
Fortunately, bumble bees and sweat bees seem to like the tiny purple blossoms, so I tolerate it - but only as long as it takes for me to get to that spot and ... weed it out.
Chickweed is so green and vibrant you almost want to toss it in a salad. Good news! You can. It's tender and mild and a perfect substitute for sprouts on a sandwich. Birds like it, too. Mourning doves and a diverse crew of sparrows snack on chickweed seeds. Sweat bees and syrphid flies can be found on the flowers as well.
This week take a Weed Walk . What flowers do you find growing in your yard? Are there any bees or flies visiting them? Check a field guide to see if they are edible... and take a bite of the wild side.