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.
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.
- 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
- If possible and you have enough space plant plants in groups so that it is easy for bees to collect pollen and nectar efficiently.
- 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.
- Also plant flowering shrubs and fruit trees.
- Don’t forget about your front garden and window boxes they can be bee friendly as well
- Never use pesticides on flowers and only use organic, non-toxic pesticides in your garden. Better still try gardening organically.
- 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.
- Plant so you have flowers throughout the year from early flowering crocuses to autumn flowering asters.
- 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.
- 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.
Everlasting Sweet Pea
Apple Tree Blossom
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.
Please also see our new post about how to make a bee watering hole