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For upcoming Bees Needs Week, I thought we’d look at ways we can do a little something for our little friends. As gardeners we have our bee’s well-being in the palm of our hands and there’s no better way to garden than to “bee friendly”.

British bees

Flowers-decorating-cake

There are more than 250 species of bee here in Britain and we have an estimated 270,000 honeybee hives.

So, as a beekeeper myself, I know the significance of bees for our own wellbeing—without them the human race would struggle to harvest enough food.

In Europe, around a third of bee and butterfly species are declining and almost 10% are threatened with extinction.

Making your garden pollinator-friendly goes a long way to provide our locals bees with food sources and homes to live and once you start taking notice, you’ll begin to identify the different species.

Next time you see a bumblebee, take a look at its tail end—some species are identifiable by their ‘buff-tailed’ or ‘red-tailed’ characteristics.

Food glorious food

One of the most beneficial things you can do for bees is grow more flowers.

Cultivars that are rich in pollen or nectar are best as it delivers them a delicious food source—this treasured loot is then taken back to the hive and made it into honey to feed their young.

You can offer nectar sources simply by mowing your lawn less.

In fact, there could be a 30 per cent increase in bee activity by reducing how much you mow, as even weeds and lawn flowers like daisies and clovers keep bees abuzz.

It’s no secret that our flying friends love blue and purple hues, as they can see ultraviolet shades most vividly.

Rose-petal-salad-2
Rose-petal-salad-2

One of the most beneficial things you can do for bees is grow more flowers.

Cultivars that are rich in pollen or nectar are best as it delivers them a delicious food source—this treasured loot is then taken back to the hive and made it into honey to feed their young.

You can offer nectar sources simply by mowing your lawn less.

In fact, there could be a 30 per cent increase in bee activity by reducing how much you mow, as even weeds and lawn flowers like daisies and clovers keep bees abuzz.

It’s no secret that our flying friends love blue and purple hues, as they can see ultraviolet shades most vividly.

Opt for Buddleja (butterfly bush), blue globe thistle and chives to invite in pollinators during summer and autumn.

Abelia × grandiflora is a shrub that displays clusters of pale pink flowers during summer and autumn and you can add it to large borders and beds as it’s well known for attracting bees.

If your flower beds are already bursting with life, pepper heathers amongst your already established plants or try space-saving patio pots of purple lavender and herbs like oregano.

Humble homes

Give your garden bees more ground cover by keeping the space wild wherever possible and going for green instead of grey manmade structures.

For a few years now, I’ve been adding to a wildflower cornucopia at the bottom of my garden and there are ready-to-use wildflower seed balls that you can scatter yourself.

As well as inviting bees into the garden, this works as a safe haven.

Solitary bees like mason bees use mud for constructing their nests while mining bees make their nests in lawn or semi-bare ground—so a green patch of soil can go a long way to keeping them safe over winter.

A really easy way to turn the tides is to spend some time building a bee hotel—see my step-by-step guide at daviddomoney.com.

It can be done by rolling up a length of corrugated cardboard or you can use hollow stemmed bramble, hogweed or bamboo—any that are about 4mm in diameter.

Lavender-sprigs-in-lemon-drink

If you hang your hotel in a sunny spot, bees will lay eggs in the stems over spring and the young bees will emerge the following year.

Bee-lieve the buzz

Gardening to help wildlife gives great incentive to get out there every day, it’s really rewarding. Let yourself fall in love with these little bumbling beauties by keeping an eye out for species that visit your garden and getting your kids to join in with a bee survey.

There’s so much to find out about these fascinating creatures:

did you know that bees can actually recognise our faces and that it takes honeybees 10 million trips to gather enough nectar for 1lb of honey.

Lavender-sprigs-in-lemon-drink

Top tips to try:

  1. An alarming threat to honeybees in the UK right now is the invasion of Asian hornet. Go to nonnativespecies.org to flag any sightings.
  1. Instead of using harsh chemicals, spray aphids with washing up liquid or neem oil. Encourage ladybirds and lacewings which will keep aphid populations in check without harm to bees.
  1. Spread the word: if you see neat circular cuttings from your plant leaves, it’s most likely caused by leafcutter bees. They won’t harm plants, so don’t spray insecticides as it’s harmful—so think before you spray.
  1. You can create a more bee-friendly space by growing nectar rich plants, mowing lawns less, incorporating some hibernating habitats and a supply of fresh water—bird baths are good for bees too!
  1. BEE more aware. You can download apps to get your family talking and thinking about bees more, try apps like ‘BeeID’ and visit bumblebeeconservation.org to find out how to help.

Tip:

A sprinkling of Epsom salts of

baking powder around the base of a tomato

plant will give you sweeter tasting

fruits.

Reader questions

Are all insects I find on my plants considered as pests?

red-hot-poker

No, many insects are in fact greatly beneficial in the garden. Ladybirds, hoverflies and lacewings will feed on pest insects, like aphids. Bees and butterflies are extremely important as they pollinate the flowers we grow in our gardens and are a vital in sustaining the food chain.

I’m running out of space; can I grow root vegetables in containers?

fresh radishes

Many root vegetables need a long growing period and have high nutrient requirements, so most are unsuitable for containers. Quick to mature radishes and beetroot do well in deep containers when well-watered.

Find out how to make a bumblebee house here:

Or check out my Pinterest board for more ideas:

grow-your-own-garnish
Bumble bee house
Pinterest flower power
Pinterest Board


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