10 Simple Steps to Creating a Bee Friendly Garden

A bee friendly garden is a family friendly garden.  How so you may say?  Well it is estimated that 78% of flowering plants rely on bees and other insects to reproduce. Worldwide, of the 100 crop species that provide 90% of the world’s food, over 70 are pollinated by bees. A world without bees will therefore be an impoverished and hungry world.  Not a great future for our children.

Bee on Lavender

Plants for a Bee Friendly Garden

Particularly in cities gardens, play an important part of the green framework.  Bees need to eat two things from your garden: pollen and nectar.  By filling your garden with native plants such as honeysuckle, wild roses, lavender, foxgloves, hollyhocks, clematis and hydrangeas you can create a lovely diet for bees. Lots of herbs attract bees.  If you visit any herb garden you will see and hear it positively buzzing.  Borage is a great herb for feeding honey bees.

Bee on flower

  1. Plant the right plants: bees like certain plants better than others.  Cornflowers, sunflowers and a good garden wild flower mixture are also popular with bees, and they are also partial to poppies and flowering fruit trees
  2. If possible and you have enough space plant plants in groups so that it is easy for bees to collect pollen and nectar efficiently.
  3. Avoid plants with double heads and multi-petaled flowers as they often do not have pollen and nectar.  Where they do have food bees may have difficulty gaining access to it.
  4. Also plant flowering shrubs and fruit trees.
  5. Don’t forget about your front garden and window boxes they can be bee friendly as well
  6. Never use pesticides on flowers and only use organic, non-toxic pesticides in your garden.  Better still try gardening organically.
  7. Have as many flowers for as long as possible in your garden.  Deadhead all your flowers regularly as this will encourage more flowers and hence more food for the bees.
  8. Plant so you have flowers throughout the year from early flowering crocuses to autumn flowering asters.
  9. Put up or make a solitary bee nesting box, though I have just seen a statistic that only 3% of these are occupied and you may be better to concentrate all your efforts on planting.
  10. If they come inside the house – encourage them they are not pests so please do not kill them.  I have childhood memories of every bee in the house being thought of as just a stinging machine and promptly killed.

You’ll be pleased to learn that the list of bee friendly plants is extensive and perhaps just a little daunting.  There are loads of common garden plants on it and if you check on those in your garden you may find quite a few.  Here’s a list of plants that I know the bees in my garden are always having a good nosey into and hopefully finding lots of food.

Bee on Calendula, bee friendly flower

Calendula

Lavender

Lavatera

Catmint (Nepeta)

Chives

Rosemary

Thyme

Poppies

Foxgloves

Honeysuckle

Everlasting Sweet Pea

Lilac

Apple Tree Blossom

Scabious

Aster

 

Its worth noting what plants the bees like in your garden and then perhaps buying a few more of them.  An ideal activity while you are soaking up the sun with a glass of Pimms in your hands.  This year I am going to get my 8 Year old to undertake a few surveys for me.  One way of getting him to learn the names of a few more plants.

 

 

 

 

 

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3 Responses to 10 Simple Steps to Creating a Bee Friendly Garden

  1. Amanda Kennedy May 4, 2013 at 8:55 am #

    Thank you for this, my youngest has developed a fascination with bees and we were planning to plant some flowers in our narrow strip of garden this weekend in the hope of attracting some bees for him to watch. Luckily I managed to pick up some lavender for next to nothing yesterday and hope the wildflowers from last year will grow again too so we may be off to a good start.

    Our biggest problem is that the narrow strip we have for plants is shaded for most of the day. Could you possibly recommend a plant or two which would thrive in the shade but still be attractive to bees?

    • Lynda May 4, 2013 at 6:10 pm #

      Lots of shade loving plants do not have large or lots of flowers. My pulmonaria which is flowering now has loads of bees on it. Perennial geraniums seem to survive in most places. Foxgloves would work, but they are poisonous so you would have to be careful with them. You could also try fuschia, Yellow loosestrife, any of the campanulas (bellflowers), Monarda, Sedum, Japanese Anemone, and Asters. Hope some of these will work for you

      • Alice Q May 10, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

        Aquilegias seem to do fine in dry shade, might need watering till they get established, then should self-seed everywhere. They look fab too.

        Nasturtium will grow almost everywhere, and don’t mind shade, and bees love them….though they might spread too much – ie be hard to get rid of…