MAKE YOUR GARDEN A HAVEN FOR BEES!
Help save the bees with 5 simple steps! It’s our future and our planet..
1. GARDEN A LITTLE ON THE WILD SIDE.
Did you know long grass provides the perfect habitat for wild bumblebee nests? Many of the common wild flowers are happy to grow in it, such as dandelions, clover, celandines, buttercup and primroses, are also valuable sources of food for pollinating insects. Alternatively, consider mowing your lawn less often, or transforming sections of it into a wildflower-rich meadow by sowing seeds of yellow rattle into it in early autumn. This wonderful little wildflower naturally robs fertility from over-vigorous species of grasses, allowing lots of daintier, pollinator-friendly wild grasses and flowers to thrive in their place.
2. GROW PLANTS FOR ALL SEASONS
Resident pollinating insects need a steady supply of nectar and pollen from the moment they wake up from their winter hibernation in early spring and take wing in search of food. Autumn-flowering plants are equally important, coming at a time when many are preparing once again for hibernation. So by growing a few spring-flowering garden plants such as hellebores, lungwort (Pulmonaria), honesty (Lunaria) and flowering currant (Ribes), and some autumn-flowering species such as dahlias, sedum, Michaelmas daisies and joe pye weed (Eupatorium), you’ll be giving them a helping hand. Meanwhile, by growing a few pots of snowdrops and crocuses, or allowing wild ivy to colonise a small patch of your garden, you’re providing food in the lean months of late winter and early spring, when rogue warm days make honeybees take flight and tempt bumblebees out of hibernation.
3. DO YOUR VERY BEST TO AVOID USING GARDEN CHEMICALS.
Especially avoid those containing what are known as neonicotinoids or neonics, a common ingredient in many over-the-counter insecticidal sprays as well as in some pre-treated seed. Similarly, avoid using weedkillers and fungicidal sprays. None of these are good for pollinating insects, or indeed, for humans.
4. CHOOSE SINGLE-FLOWERED PLANTS RATHER THAN THE DOUBLE- FLOWERED KIND.
If you’re new to gardening, these terms can sound a little bamboozling, but don’t panic. They’re just ways of distinguishing between flowers with relatively few petals (single-flowered) and those with lots and lots of them (double-flowered). Double-flowered aren’t much use to pollinating insects as their profusion of petals makes it very difficult to access the flowers’ nectar and pollen, which they rely on for food. Examples of “open-faced” or single-flowered garden plants include many species-type roses, both the species-type and Bishop-series of Dahlias, and many varieties of cosmos.
Click HERE for a list of SINGLE-FLOWERED plants that Bees love!
5. GROW SOME TREES.
It can be easy to forget that the nectar and pollen of the flowers of many common garden trees are fantastic sources of food for pollinating insects, especially those that bloom in late winter or spring. Examples include the native hawthorn, hazel, alder, rowan, crab apple, willow, horse chestnut, ornamental cherry and most fruit trees. The flowers of many common garden shrubs such as berberis, forsythia, potentilla, lavender, rosemary, mahonia, viburnum and cotoneaster are also excellent sources of food.