What can I do to attract bees to my garden?

Bees on Flowers

Bees are pollinating insects which means they transfer pollen and seeds from one plant or flower to another. This is an essential stage of plant growth. Without it the plant would die or not produce any fruit. Bees pollinate 30% of our food crops. Pollinating crops by hand is slow and expensive So even from an economic point of view, we desperately need to keep our bees working!

Any diligent gardener will know that the bee population is decreasing and this is a very worrying fact for the future of our planet. This is mostly because of an increase in industrial agriculture, parasites and pathogens, bee-killing pesticides and climate change. The only real solution to combat this is to move towards more ecological farming, banning those pesticides which are killing the bees and actually come up with a prevention strategy, a kind of anti bee killing plan.

Ecological farming should be encouraged. And consumers need to be encouraged to make wiser choices when buying their food. Buy organic, because organic farming methods support insects and wildlife – and some organic farms even have plans in place to actively encourage bees and other pollinating insects.

So what can the average gardener do? Well, the good news is, lots of things. Some of course are going to be easier than others. The easiest option would be to plant some flowers and plants that bees and other pollinating insects love. The harder option would be to grow your own vegetables, become self sufficient (fruit and vegetable wise) the other option on top of these two would be to have some bee hives in your garden. You don’t need much space and it doesn’t matter whether you live in the countryside or the city. If you don’t want to keep bees yourself then why not get in touch with a local bee keeper and offer them the chance to keep hives on your property? You’re bound to get a free jar or two of honey! We’re not experts on bee keeping but you can visit the Greenpeace website for plenty of information. Or you can visit the British Bee Keepers association website at www.bbka.org.uk. You can also buy bee and insect houses from places like Homebase or B&Q. They are usually about £5-10 and don’t take up any space in your garden.

The next question you may ask is how can I plant flowers in my garden to attract bees? Which flowers work the best? Well if you already have flower beds – lavender is a good option – look out for car boot sales as plants are usually better value and do better in your garden than your average garden centre. You might not get the choice as you would in a garden centre but you will certainly save a few pounds! If you have lawn with space to spare then turning part of it into a wildflower meadow would certainly keep the bees buzzing. The Royal Horticultural Society have an array of ideas and information and provide this list as a starting point for anyone who wants to know which plants or flowers will attract bees and other pollinating insects to their garden:

Wild plants

• Achillea millefolium (common yarrow)

• Centaurea scabiosa (greater knapweed)

• Digitalis purpurea (common foxglove)

• Eupatorium cannabinum (hemp agrimony)

• Lonicera periclymenum (common honeysuckle)

• Origanum vulgare (wild marjoram)

• Thymus pulegioides (large thyme)

• Trifolium repens (white clover)

• Verbascum nigrum (dark mullein)

• Viburnum opulus (guelder rose)

Garden plants

• Caryopteris × clandonensis (caryopteris)

• Dianthus barbatus (sweet william)

• Hesperis matronalis (dame’s violet)

• Hyssopus officinalis (hyssop)

• Jasminum officinale (common jasmine)

• Lavandula angustifolia (English lavender)

• Lychnis coronaria (rose campion)

• Monarda didyma (bergamot or bee balm)

• Verbena bonariensis (purple top

• Weigela florida (weigela)

This list is not exhaustive, and whether you have an acre of wildflower garden or just a window box you know you are doing your bit for the bees, the eco-system and our planet! Three of our favourite bee attracting plants are borage, foxglove and honeysuckle. Simple to grow, very attractive to bees and give amazing colourful displays. With our recent heatwaves and sudden down pours you may notice what looks like a very sleepy bee on the ground. So what should you do in this situation? Well there is loads of advice out there but we would suggest moving it to a place of safety so it doesn’t get trodden on, and putting some water next to it if you can. A jam jar lid is a good idea, as shallow as possible. Bees do sleep sometimes, but it also could be exhausted if the weather is hot or waiting for its wings to dry if we’ve had a lot of rain. If a bee gets into your house, open a window close to it – it is clever enough to find its way out, and won’t sting you unless it feels threatened by you.

We hope you found this blog useful, and even if you don’t have time to plant seeds or host a bee hive colony in your garden, a tub of lavender would be better than nothing!

Good luck with your bee gardens we hope that we have inspired you to do something to save the bees!

And now it’s time for us to bee off! (sorry)

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Alex is responsible for managing Just Lawnmowers website and blog. When not building websites he spends his time out walking in the beautiful North Norfolk countryside, gardening in his wild, sloping garden or enjoying a game of chess down at his local chess club!

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