If you’re interested in gardening and nature you’re probably aware that bees are in trouble, with numbers and species in quite dramatic decline. What you might not be aware of is just how important bees are to us and the planet in general.
Bees don’t just make honey and give us a lovely sound in the garden on summer afternoons. Bees are vital for the pollination of plants – including food crops – and this insect family which is in serious decline plays a crucial role in helping to provide around a third of the food we eat. Just think about that for a second – worrying isn’t it?
No matter how small your garden or outdoor space, you can do your bit to help bees thrive – and they’ll return the favour by pollinating all your plants. Here are some ideas for what you can do to make your garden bee-friendly.
Grow pollinator-friendly plants
Choose plants that provide a good source of nectar or pollen – or ideally both. Try to provide these sources for as long as possible in the garden, not just in the peak summer months. Look out for the RHS ‘Perfect for Pollinators’ badge when buying seeds and plants, these will be great for bees. For lots of plant suggestions take a look at the RHS website.
Install a bee house
Solitary bees and mason bees love to make their home in little holes, and an easy way to provide such a habitat is to install a bee house. Bee houses should be placed 1-4 feet off the ground and facing as close to south as possible. Our bee hotel is from Rex London and features a variety of hole sizes to suit different types of bee. We always have at least a few residents!
Grow native wildflowers
This is a great low-maintenance option which is also perfect for a neglected part of the garden. Native plants and wildflowers suit native wildlife, and maintain the balance of nature – obvious really isn’t it! You can buy mixed packets of wildflower seeds which will create a lovely meadow effect that the bees will also enjoy; if you’re not sure how to sow them check out my guide to sowing wildflowers.
Don’t be too tidy
This is a good rule in general when making your garden a home for wildlife. Nature isn’t tidy, so wildlife isn’t suited to taking up residence amongst a perfectly pristine garden. Try letting some of your lawn grow longer to allow plants like clover to flower, or leave dead plant stems on the plant to provide a place for solitary bees to nest.
Looking after our native bees is so important – it really isn’t something we can ignore and hope others will sort out. Happily, a bee-friendly garden isn’t tricky to create and looks lovely. It’s also a wonderful project to get the children involved with too – and by doing so we can inspire the next generation to carry on the good work.
Have I convinced you to make a few bee-friendly changes in your garden? I hope so.
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I was sent the wild bee house as a review gift, all opinions and comments are honest and genuine.