How To: Save Bees With a Bee Garden

Bees and other similar pollinators are a vital part of our ecosystem, as well as pollinating flowers, fruit and vegetables they also provide us with a tasty, gooey, sweet food – honey, of course! There are around 20 species of bees you may find in a UK garden. Some common species include Garden bumblebees, Honeybees, and Solitary bees.

How To: Save Bees With a Bee Garden

How to Make Your Garden Bee-friendly

Even some plants on a windowsill or in a hanging basket will go a long way. They enjoy garden flowers and native wildflowers such as Primrose, Buddleia and Marigolds. A simple thing you can do is create a small place for them to drink. Put some water in a shallow dish or tray and add a few stones so bees and other insects can rest on the stones. Read on to find out more about creating bee hotels, and some more of their favourite plants all year round.

Bees' Favourite Plants

It’s important to grow a range of flowering plants which will bloom from around March to September, especially those with nectar and pollen. Some varieties of solitary bees collect hairs from plant leaves and stems in order to help build their nests. Planting “woolly” plants such as Lamb’s ears (Stachys) and Mullein (Verbascum) go a long way for these species.

Some bee-friendly plants for every season include:

  • Spring: Flowering Cherry, Daffodils, Alliums, and Hawthorn.
  • Summer: Lavender, Foxgloves, Cardoon and Goldenrod.
  • Autumn: Sedums, Japanese Anemones, Single-flowered Dahlias and Autumn Asters.
  • Winter: Snowdrops, Ivy, Winter Honeysuckle and Crocuses.
How To: Save Bees With a Bee Garden

Make Bee Hotels & Nests

Creating bee hotels and nests is an amazing way to promote bee diversity in your garden. For example, solitary bees lay their eggs in hollow cavities which protect the larvae until it is ready to hatch.

You can purchase pre-built bee hotels and nests, but if you’re feeling creative they are very easy to create yourself. All you need is a small to medium wooden box and fill it with hollow tubes, stems and bamboo canes which have been dried and cut to size. These holes should ideally range from 2mm to 10mm in diameter to allow a range of species to use them.

Place the box in a sunny spot which gets the morning sun or hang it on a wall sheltered from the rain and watch as bees come and go in their new hotel!

Reduce Grass Cutting & Pesticides

Cutting your grass less often or leaving a section of your lawn to “grow wild” during the spring and summer is extremely helpful. This gives pollinators some shelter and a place to feed by allowing wildflowers to bloom. When you do come to mow your lawn, it is worth raising the mower blades to cut the grass a few cm longer.

Pesticides and herbicides are directly correlated with the decline in our bee population. We may think it’s easy to buy a can of spray to deal with common pests such as aphids, but it has a detrimental effect on the local bee population too. Where possible, look for natural alternatives for dealing with garden pests. If you must use them, use them on a cloudy day and first thing in the morning when bees are least active and do not spray it on flowers where possible.

Alongside reducing our grass-cutting and pesticide usage, we can also choose to be more sustainable. Opting for peat-free soils means that their natural peat habitats aren’t being destroyed, and choosing to shop for local. sustainable and organic kinds of honey. This way, you know where the honey is coming from and you are supporting your local farmers.

If you’d like more information on how to protect bees and ideas for which flowers to grow in your garden, speak to one of the team at Holt Garden Centre who will be happy to help.

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