HomeNewsHow to attract and grow a bee friendly garden
How to attract and grow a bee friendly garden
Gardens are our little patches of heaven where we like to relax at the end of the day and enjoy the best of what nature has to offer - the amazing colours and smell of our favourite flowers. But there’s someone else that loves gardens even more than we do. Bees, our trusted hard-working pollinators, rely on flowers in our backyard and their tasty stores of nectar and pollen.
Some of the best flowers for planting in a bee garden are the ones that don’t have that many petals making them easier for the bees to access. Double flowers can also be difficult to navigate. So, keep this in mind when choosing plants for your bee garden. To attract bees, make sure you have at least two types of bee-friendly flowers in bloom from spring to autumn. Different species of bees are active throughout the year.
Avoid using Pesticide! To keep pests at bay, plant marigolds and tomatoes together, plant garlic among your roses and leave dry sprigs of holly around your strawberries as a defence against slugs. These will naturally deter unwanted insects without the use of poison.
Best herbs for cooking and bees:
These 10 common herbs are among some of the best plants in providing bees with valuable nectar and pollen throughout the year.
1. Wild marjoram plant This aromatic herb produces pinkish-white drifts of nectar-rich flowers. Growing wild marjoram attracts bumblebees, honeybees, leafcutter and furrow bees. Flowering season: Summer and early autumn.
2. Does mint attract bees? You bet. And it's easy to grow. Pop in a pot to prevent it invading other plants. Got a pond? Try growing water mint (Mentha aquatica) – bees and hoverflies love it. Flowering season: Summer and early autumn.
3. Fennel's bright yellow flowerheads are rich in nectar and pollen – food for mining bees, yellow-faced bees, bumblebees, and honeybees. The herb tastes of aniseed and produces aromatic seeds. Fennel can really grow. Plant it in a sunny spot at the back of a border. Flowering season: Mid to late summer.
4. Rosemary - Pluck fresh needles from this drought-tolerant herb all year round. Its flared blue-purple flowers attract mason bees, flower bees, bumblebees, and honeybees. Short of space? Pot creeping rosemary in a sunny spot. Flowering season: Starts in spring. Can continue throughout the year – even in winter.
5. Chives are easy to grow in pots or a window box. Snip with scissors at the base of the plants to encourage more leaves to grow. The edible purple flowers feed bumblebees, honeybees, mason bees and leafcutter bees. Share with the bees and add colour to your salads. Flowering season: Spring and summer.
Some Bee facts from the World Wildlife Federation - https://www.wwf.org.uk/learn/fascinating-facts/bees
Almost 90% of wild plants and 75% of leading global crops depend on animal pollination. One out of every three mouthfuls of our food depends on pollinators such as bees. Crops that depend on pollination are five times more valuable than those that do not.
Social bees, such as honeybees and bumblebees, often live in hives, above or below the ground, while most solitary bees nest in the ground. Bees can be found in so many locations, some surprising. These include marshes, shingle, sand dunes, soft cliffs, heathlands, wetlands, chalk grasslands, quarries, gravel pits, sea walls and even post-industrial land.
If you find a bumblebee which appears to be struggling, it may be that it is just resting, particularly if the bee is a queen in early spring. If you think the bee is struggling the best thing to do is gently put the bee onto a bee-friendly flower. If there are no bee-friendly flowers around, mix 50/50 white sugar and water to give the bumblebee a one-off energy boost, providing the carbohydrates it needs to fly. Simply offer a drop or two of sugar water up to the front end of the bee on a teaspoon or an upturned drinks cap in a sheltered place and allow the bee time to recuperate. (It is not advisable to use brown sugar as it is harder for bees to digest and don’t give bumblebees honey as this can contain pathogens.)
Bees have 4 wings. The two wings each side hook together to form one larger pair when flying and then unhook when they’re not flying.
Honeybees have a dance move called the ‘waggle dance’. It’s not actually a dance move at all, rather a clever way of communicating between themselves to tell their nestmates where to go to find the best source of food. It took the researchers at Sussex University two years to decode the waggle dance.
If the queen bee dies in a honeybee hive the workers can create a new queen bee. They do this by selecting a young larva and by feeding it special food called ‘royal jelly’ the larva will develop into a fertile queen.
Want to find out how bee friendly your garden is? Click here - https://beekind.bumblebeeconservation.org
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