Wild Bee numbers have been declining for decades in the UK. This is due to the wild grasslands of this country diminishing by a massive 97%; and the widespread use of agricultural pesticides on farmlands up and down the country. The Government has urged gardeners to do their bit and help with this serious issue. Bee experts have called for a nationwide effort to protect this threatened genus.
So what can gardeners do to help bees survive – especially during the winter months? Well there is plenty to do to help in small ways.
The first thing to do is leave a small patch of your garden to grow wild, and make sure it will not get disturbed in any way. Make it just as nature intended it, and you can do this by letting grass grow long and allowing wild flowers to bloom. If you have a north facing bank then this is the ideal spot to allow grass to overgrow. Bees like to burrow, especially when they need to hibernate and facing north is the most suitable for their hibernation.
It is also important to grow plants which will provide an essential food source for the bees during the colder months. Such plants as spring flowering plants and winter flowering plants are a good idea. Perhaps an aubrietia or acacia dealbata. Hedera hibernica ivy is also good for wildlife gardens, fast growing it is ideal if you want to get your wildlife garden going quickly.
For your wildflower garden you can scatter seeds straight into the ground, with one of our wildflower seed mixes, so there is no need for potting up or pricking out. For early flowering plants crocus bulbs and snowdrops are perfect, they provide early springtime food supplies to sustain the bees until more spring flowers arrive.
Most bees exist in a state of near hibernation during the winter but having food to eat during this time will give them a much better chance of surviving until the next spring. Summertime flowers are frequently seen in the garden; but extending the time there are nectar rich flowers into early spring and late autumn is increasingly important for the bees survival.
Lord Gardener Minister of Rural Affairs and Biosecurity has said that bees are a much loved feature of the English countryside in summertime. He also stated that they are also a crucial part of the biodiversity of this country and an essential part of our economy; and that it is vital not to forget bees during winter time. At Thompson & Morgan we feel that it is extremely important to provide a home and food for these wonderful little creatures that do so much for us.
If you would like to find out more about making your garden a haven for wildlife – the articles below have a vast array of information, knowledge and inspiration. Make your winter garden bee-friendly – head on over to our winter flowers hub for ideas!
Bees & Butterflies Inspiration
Encouraging Wildlife including Bees
What to do in the Garden to Encourage Wildlife
I have worked for Thompson & Morgan for nearly four years. In that time I have learnt lots about gardening, but consider myself very much a novice. I have started growing veg on a colleague’s allotment and also growing windowsill seeds such as Salad Leaves and Rocket. I love gaining more knowledge about horticulture and am lucky enough to work here.
Love this blog Wendie! I’ve got several wildflower mixes ready to chuck (literally) in the garden next year to just let it do it’s own thing! I’ve actually got a few old motorcycle tyres that I plan to sow them in and see what happens – will let you know the progress next year!
Thanks karen, thats so kind of you. I will wait to see your summer garden with anticipation. Wendie
Love that this article has been written, I started my garden off by making a small wildflower border, we hope to have two wildlife borders next year as I have been slowly redesigning the garden over tine. Each new wildlife section is helping other areas of my garden such as having bees to pollinate my fruits, flowers and greenhouse crops, as well as, as enougraging other beneficial insects such as butterflies other pollinators and bugs like grasshoppers beetles and woodlice.
Thank you Amanda,
That is very kind of you. I think we need to help the poor old bees as much as we can. Keeping an area undisturbed is probably very difficult for most people, as we all like our spaces tidy. I think if you can do this you will reap many benefits. Hope you are okay, kindest regards, Wendie
I agree a great article. I never knew about a North facing bank for bees in winter. My back garden is North facing, and I have a small banking just outside my garden which is VERY overgrown! Next spring I’m going to sow wildflower seeds and anything else I can that’s bee AND butterfly friendly.
I did sow lots of nasturtium in my garden this year and the bees loved them. So many different kinds of bee, sadly not many butterflies. I know nasturtium can be invasive and self seed like mad, but to see the number of bees in my garden was a joy.
Thanks again for a lovely written article.
Many thanks Anthony, a very interesting subject, and one close to my heart. Send us images of your wild area when it grows in the summer. Would love to see what you’ve done. Regards, Wendie