Bees are an important part of the garden all year round; as they pollinate our plants and vegetables. It is been widely publicised that their numbers are in decline, which could cause serious issues to our plant life over the coming years. Luckily all is not lost yet, with a bit of thought and planning, your garden can become a haven for these busy buzzers.
Importance Of Bees In Your Garden
Bees play a vital role in the whole ecosystem, which isn’t just limited to the honey output. Roughly two thirds of crops require insect pollination to aid with their growth, and honeybees and bumblebees are responsible for a large proportion of this. This is a vital role in the production of our fruit and vegetables.
Unfortunately, Britain doesn't have anywhere near enough honeybees to pollinate our required crop loads; it’s estimated that Britain only has 25% of the required honeybees to pollinate the essential crops. This is why it’s important to create safe havens for our bees in our gardens so we can help the numbers increase.
How To Attract The Bees
The good news is, it isn’t too complicated to create a garden that the bees can enjoy living in all-year round. All that is required is a bit of pre-planning and you can enjoy that gentle buzzing throughout the year.
1. Nectar or pollen rich plants
To enable bees to flourish, you essentially need two components: nectar and pollen. The nectar is full of sugars, which provides a bee’s principal source of energy. The pollen is a more balanced diet of fats and proteins. These two key ingredients are vital to the whole operation and are found in a variety of plants. Even small areas planted with the right flowers can be hugely beneficial for local bees. You should consider using native plants rather than exotic flowers, as, according to research, they are significantly more attractive. They are also, usually, better adapted to your growing conditions.
2. Choose plants with several colours
Bees have thought to have decent colour vision so they can find the flowers. Give them a helping hand by making sure you fill your garden with the right colours. They have shown to be particularly attracted to plants that are yellow, purple, blue or white. You don’t need to exclusively choose plants that are this colour, however by keeping a healthy helping of these plants, you can ensure the bees have enough to keep them buzzing.
3. Go for single petal plants
This is a simple tip to make things easier for your buzzing friends. Traditionally plants that have single, open flowers allow easy access for bees to reach the nectar and pollen. Single-petaled flowers can also have more pollen than other varieties so can be a much bigger meal for the hungrier bees.
4. Plant flowers that bloom all year round
If you plant flowers that all bloom at the same time of the year, it will be a veritable feast for the bees but they will run out of food quickly. This is why it’s very important to plant flowers that bloom throughout the year so the bees have enough to keep them going. This requires a lot of forethought and planning from your side, however the benefits this will reap for the long-term health of the community of bees will be huge.
5. Avoid pesticides
To allow bees to flourish you need to stop using pesticides of any kind! Bees are vulnerable to pesticides and chemicals. If you need to remove pests from the garden make sure, you use more natural varieties. If you do spray the plants, ensure that you do so after the sun has gone down, when pollinators have turned in for the night.
6. Provide water
Have you ever seen a large bumblebee sluggishly crawling across the ground? It is quite possibly dehydrated. Bees need water, as do we all, and sometimes it can be hard to come by. To really help Mr Bee you can place a shallow dish of water in your garden around the flowers. Birdbaths will be too deep for them but you can place pebbles in them to provide the bees a place to sit and hydrate as necessary.
7. Provide a nest site
Building a nest site for the bees can be an excellent way to keep the bees safe. Bees like to use decomposing vegetation and tree stumps but creating a bespoke house for these bees can be an excellent way of helping them thrive. Granting the bees planning permission to build their own nest is an excellent way of ensuring they stay safe throughout the year.
8. Re-think your weeds
For most gardeners, weeds are the scourge of any garden. This is a very understandable position, however it is worth considering keeping a few here and there. Dandelions especially are a strong source of food for bees and can be very helpful if you don't have many other blooming plants at that time.
9. Get herby
We use herbs for cooking all the time. These plants are not only great for us but herbs like lavender, mint, catnip or rosemary are among a bees favourite. These type of plants can be great pollinators so where possible share the wealth between yourself and your new yellow and black neighbours.
10. Location, Location, Location
The final point to help attract bees is to create a haven where bees will want to visit. Bees favour sunny areas as opposed to shade but will need cover when it gets too hot for them. They will also need protection from the strong winds. Having a garden that can tick all of these boxes will become a haven for bees year after year.