Creating a bee-friendly garden

July 28, 2018

WordS

Most of the food we eat is reliant on bees in some way. Bees have been a hot topic of late because of their globally declining populations due to aggressive industrial agriculture and use of pesticides. So here’s a quick guide to creating a bee-friendly garden.

What do bees need?

If you have an outside space at your home, even the smallest area, you can create an environment that will attract bees by providing a source of food, and in the process you’ll end up creating a vibrant outdoor area full of colour and life.

Bees are attracted to flowers for nectar and pollen, both of which provide carbohydrates and protein, which they need for growth and energy. A single bee can visit up to 5,000 plants every day. Busy bees isn’t a saying that has no relevance: the buzzing of a bee is the sound of its four wings moving 11,400 times a minute as it flies.

A bee’s busy lifestyle requires healthy doses of food to provide energy and fight of disease and parasites.

What makes a bee-friendly garden?

There are a lot of easy ways to attract bees to your garden, but the easiest is to ensure you’re planting a selection of plants that flower at different times to ensure your garden becomes a year-round source of bountiful nectar and pollen. The beauty of planned planting like this is it means you’ll be able to enjoy a colourful vibrant garden year-round, while also providing a healthy habitat for bees.

Another thing bees love is vibrant clusters of the same flowering plant so they can dine for longer periods in one area. The colour created by planting in clusters also acts as a beacon to your garden. Bees do need a variety of flowers to thrive though, so remember to include a selection of different species throughout the garden.

What are the best plants to attract bees?

Bees are attracted to colour, so it’s good to include a range of plants that have different coloured and shaped flowers. Some of the best ornamental flowers for bees are daisies, hollyhock, penstemon and balsam, as well as wisteria and sunflowers.

If you’re in favour of edible gardens, bees love pumpkin, chives, basil, echinacea and sweetcorn. In terms of trees, plum, apple, lemon, orange, grapefruit, pear and peach trees provide ideal havens for bees.

Bees also need water so it’s a great idea to offer them suitable drinking spaces. One of the easiest ways to do this is to put small saucers of water in the garden with small stones in them where bees can perch and drink without falling in.

If you’re not sure what will work best in your area, visit your local garden centre to find out what would best attract bees and thrive in your garden.

Perhaps most importantly, though, avoid using pesticides to create a haven for bees. Most pesticides kill indiscriminately and will kill bees along with pest insects.

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