"That which is not good for the bee-hive cannot be good for the bees"

Marcus Aurelius - Roman Emporer AD 121-180

If you are a property owner, and have no interest in keeping bees yourself, please consider allowing a PennApic beekeeper to maintain hives on your property. You would be helping the overall environment and the honey bees. Please contact us and we will be more than happy to give you the details.

Backyard Wildlife Habitat Sanctuary

The Pennsylvania Backyard Beekeepers Association hopes to provide practical and

sensible advice on topics that can benefit honey bees and the environment as a whole. 

While many of these topics seem to be divisive, we will make an effort to provide advice

and topics that are positive, proactive, and informative to all.

Honey bees on fall goldenrod in September.

Basics of a Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary


The following guidelines and suggestions are to help the residential homeowner make their property

more than the standard “grass” backyard. Many homeowners are trying to be more self-sufficient, supportive of sustainable agriculture, and lessen the impact or damage they cause to the environment. Anyone can transform their property into a wildlife sanctuary. And honey bees benefit from such



Plant Native Plants:

Select native plants that thrive in your local area and planting zone. Native plants require less water

as compared to other “specialty” plants, require less fertilizer, and are easier to care for and maintain.

Native plants are also many times more beneficial to the local wildlife habitat which has become a

ccustomed to these plants over time.


Select Beneficial Plants:

Many specialty hybrid and propagated plant varieties are sterile of beneficial pollen, nectar, and

seeds needed for a wide range of insects, native pollinators, and animals. Select flowering, fruit

bearing, seed, and nut producing varieties. Fruit and nut trees are some of the most spectacular

plants you can enjoy throughout the year. They benefit wildlife many times at key timeframes

that native insects and pollinators need for their lifecycle. And the season ending fruits and nuts

are enjoyed by a wide range of birds and wildlife.


Plant a Garden:

A growing number of homeowners are now planting gardens, keeping bees, chickens, and trying to

be more sustainable. These efforts also benefit wildlife in so many ways. Besides the occasional treat

for local wildlife that a garden may provide, some plantings are also very enjoyable and beautiful. A

simply herb garden is easy to maintain, provides summer long lasting blooms, and are used by many butterflies, bees, and other beneficial insects. Catnip, mints, thyme, chives, and a host of other herbs

can be easily grown almost anywhere. Bees and butterflies love them.


Provide Water Sources:

A bird bath may be visited by many bird species, but will also be used by native pollinators, and

other insects. A pond, stream, or water garden will also benefit wildlife in the area.


Provide Nesting:

Specialized bird houses such as those for the eastern bluebird have helped this bird back to a more

healthy population. But they still need help due to the destruction of natural nesting cavities, and

increased competition from varieties of non-native birds. Bat houses providing locations for summer

nurseries are a huge benefit to any local area. Butterfly boxes also can be enjoyable and interesting

projects for young people. Whether its bats, honey bees, monarch butterflies, or other wildlife, many

can benefit from our local efforts.


Provide Natural Cover:

A simple brush pile, hedgerow, or thicket, provides a safety zone for birds and other wildlife.

Groupings of some plants such as butterfly bushes are not only beautiful and beneficial to insects,

but grow large enough to provide cover and additional nesting locations for birds.


Chemical Free Zone:

In today’s world of perfect lawns, homeowner pesticide use, farm applied chemicals, and other

chemicals that impact wildlife, your backyard chemical free zone can be a huge benefit to the

environment. Having a place for youngsters to run barefoot, and the family pet to enjoy without

walking on chemicals not only makes sense, but is healthier for all who use these areas. Lawn care

treatments are a huge problem when it comes to water runoff. If you spray it, it will end up

downstream. For almost every harsh chemical you can use around the home, there is a much s

afer non-chemical option. Use environmentally friendly products.


Learn to Love Weeds:

Many homeowners are fascinated with having the perfect yard. And the lawn care industry is bigger

than ever. The list of products that a homeowner can buy at the local hardware store seems endless.

But homeowners are starting to realize that those dandelions, clovers, and other weeds look pretty

good, when comparing the environmental damage in maintaining “manicured” lawns. Perfects lawns

not only cost financially, but harm the environment in many ways. Those simple yard plants such

as dandelions and clover, as well as other “weeds’ are used by many butterflies, honey bees and

other beneficial insects. And they can be a vital part of your wildlife sanctuary.



Anything you can provide for yourself, not only saves money for you, but lowers the impact on the environment in production, shipping, etc. Composting saves landfill space, while providing chemical

free compost. Using compost for plant bedding, and soil amending in the garden, are great ways to

lower the need of fertilizing.


Enjoy the Backyard.

Once you have your backyard wildlife sanctuary in place, use it! Let others see it. And help them

understand the importance of what you did. Good responsible stewardship of your backyard does

not make you a tree hugging fanatic. It helps you understand nature, your impact on the environment,

and hopefully a place for you to enjoy knowing you are doing the right thing.



Site dealing with plant identification, wildflowers, and meadow restoration: http://www.meadowsandmore.com


Native plants in Pennsylvania: http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/forestry/wildplant/native.aspx


This picture was captured at the Kings Gap State Park, inside their Native Habitat Garden on 9-17-2011
Some of the flower species of the Kings Gap State Park Native Habitat Garden. 9-17-2011