How to encourage bees into your garden
Bees play a key role in pollinating many fruits and vegetables. 35 per cent of our diet depends on pollination of crops by bees! Bees are active between February and October and it is crucial they have enough food during this time to help them through the winter and early spring. By introducing a few spring, summer and autumn-flowering plants to your garden you will help to extend the foraging period.
To attract bees, you needn’t leave your garden to go wild – many cultivated garden plants are just as valuable to bees for food and shelter. If you only have a small garden or balcony why not try planting up a container with some bee-friendly plants? Lavender, skimmia, heliotrope, herbs, hardy geraniums, agastache, buddleja ‘Buzz’, single-flowered dahlias, single-flowered fuchsias, sedum and dwarf sunflowers are all suitable for a container and provide nectar and pollen for bees. Site your container or border in the sunniest position possible to make it more attractive to bees.
Try making a ‘bee hotel’ for solitary bees to over-winter in, using hollow plant stems (such as bamboo canes) cut into piece about 10-20cm long. Tie 15-20 pieces of hollow stem together in a bundle and hang in a sunny but sheltered area such as the side of a shed or trellis.
Top tips to encourage bees into your garden:
- Choose single-flowered varieties of plants. Bees and can’t access double flowers for pollen and nectar. Flowers with petals that form long tunnels are also inaccessible to bees.
- Leave some of your culinary herbs to flower – they are a rich food source for bees and will leave your garden buzzing on warm days!
- Try not to spray your plants with insecticides as these will kill beneficial insects too. Be patient and the pests will often be eaten naturally by ladybirds, lacewings, spiders, small mammals and birds.
Other flowers to include in your bee garden: