how to attract bees

How To Attract Bees to Your Garden

how to attract bees

The poor bees have taken a beating lately.  Between wet summers, a reduction in their natural habitat, disease, and the Government voting against banning the use of pesticides harmful to bees, the numbers of butterflies and bees in the UK has drastically plummeted.  Which as well as being bad news for bees, is bad news for us, as it’s estimated that at least a third of the plants we eat are directly or indirectly dependent on being pollinated by bees.

Although this vote has just been overturned by the EU (which I’m still ‘buzzing’ with excitement about!) – which means neonicotinoid pesticides (the ones that may harm bees) have been banned for use in all EU member states for the next two years – our little fuzzy friends aren’t out of the woods yet, and still need all the help they can get to help recover their population.  That help can start with you and your garden or window box, so here’s a Moral Fibres guide on how to attract bees to your garden:

How to Attract Bees To Your Garden

Plants that Attract Bees

Aim to plant a diverse mix of nectar and pollen rich plants, with a mix of early flowerers, sustained flowerers and late bloomers, so that from spring through to late summer there are flowering plants in your garden or window box.

When planting, aim to plant traditional native plants – think cottage garden and you’re on the right lines.  From roses, to lavender, to clematis, to hollyhocks, alliums, butterburs and geraniums, as well as edible flowering herbs, such as chives and thyme – as all of these are highly valued by bees:

bee friendly plants

(Left to right: alliums, butterburs {spring bloomers}, hollyhocks)

For a complete list of bee-friendly plants, here’s a very comprehensive list from the British Beekeepers Association, split by season, that can act as a handy guide.  Remember, aim to have a variety of plants that bloom from spring right through to autumn to keep the bees happy and rich in nectar!  This post on bee friendly plants is also very handy!

What Plants to Avoid

Some plants have been bred by horticulturists to look pretty, but provide little by way of pollen.  For that reason pansies and double begonias are best used only as part of a wide range of different flowers in your garden.

Other Useful Advice on How to Attract Bees to Your Garden:

bee hotels

A bee hotel will encourage solitary bees to lay eggs in your garden.   For a low cost option, gardener Alys Fowler recommends bundling some bamboo canes in a south-west corner, out of prevailing winds.  You can also drill holes in some bits of wood, which will also do the job

It’s also a little known fact that bees need drinking water – a small shallow dish in your garden will suffice.

Financing Your Garden

You can buy ready established plants at garden centres, but it’s easy to get carried away and spend a ton of money.  A more cost effective method is to pick up bee-friendly seeds at most garden centres and even supermarkets, allowing you to easily sow a little wildflower meadow for a pound or two.  Devote a patch of your garden to these seeds, or sow some in planters or tubs and the bees will be buzzing about in no time.

The most cost effective way of bee friendly gardening, however, is by getting together with your friends, family or neighbours to take cuttings from any plants you have already established in your gardens.  Most plants take well to being split at the roots (here’s some good advice on how to do it) or taking a cutting from, so you could have a little free plant swap.  Or you could take a small payment for each plant (say 25p) and donate the takings to a bee charity, such as the Bumblebee Conservation Trust or if you make enough you could adopt a hive.

Not Green Fingered?

bee gardening tips

If all this sounds like too much hard work then lazy gardeners the country over will be rejoicing when I say don’t be too harsh on the weeds.  Bees and butterflies don’t discriminate between your best flower-show quality roses and the dandelions pushing up on your path or lawn.  Weeds offer pollen and nectar to bees, and are just as valuable as any other plants in your garden – so there you  go – a nice excuse to put your feet up and let the weeds poke through – you’re doing it for the bees!

Even if you are a proud gardener, it’s prudent leaving an area of your garden to weed over for wildlife in general – nettles are especially beneficial to butterflies.

And, you know, the more bees you can attract to your garden then the more your garden will grow, with minimal effort from you, as the bees will do all the hard work of pollinating all of your flowers and vegetables.

And that’s how to attract bees to your garden!  Have I missed anything?  Do let me know in the comments below!

And one last pertinent point:

Don’t Have A Garden?

This post on how to help bees even if you don’t have a garden shows you how to do your bit!

Images: 12 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 – Opal Explore Nature / 7 / 8

sustainable-style-blog

Style Is: Sustainable

sustainable-style-blog

Sustainable fashion website Style Is have put together a sustainable outfit competition, and because I fully support the idea that clothing should be sustainable and timeless rather than disposable, I thought I’d submit an entry.  It’s a particularly timely and important thing to think about in light of the sad news in Bangladesh, where hundreds of people making clothes for the high street lost their lives – devastatingly showing the true cost of fast and cheap fashion.

Second-hand and ethical clothing can be incredibly stylish.  There are heaps of ethical brands out there making some great clothing and accessories. And, with the likes of eBay, Etsy and other online resources, you don’t even have to spend hours going round second-hand/vintage shops to find some second-hand bargains (although I do like a good rummage in a charity shop now and again, and the money raised goes to good causes).  And the best part about buying stylish rather than overtly “fashionable” clothing means you have a wardrobe that lasts a lifetime, rather than pieces that go out of fashion after a few months which will never see the light of day again.  So from a money-saving point of view it’s also good news!

The rules of the Style Is competition are that you have to put together an outfit containing at least one sustainable item of clothing, be it vintage, second hand, upcycled, or an item of clothing from an ethical manufacturer.  I went the whole hog, and went for everything second-hand

As our house is too small to get decent photos and it’s raining outside (oh Scotland!), meaning I can’t get out in the garden to take photos, I thought I’d take some individual photos to show the pieces in detail:

My Sustainable Outfit

vintage dress

This is my forever favourite dress.  It’s vintage from Japan, and is the ultimate in eco-friendly dressing – it’s at least third-hand!  I bought it on eBay from girl in Manchester, who bought it in a vintage shop.  I paid £1.49 for it too, making it a super bargain!

navy-military-french-connection-jacket1

I love this jacket – it’s my summer jacket.  I bought it second-hand on eBay three years ago.  It’s in need of some TLC – perhaps a dye-job as it’s a bit faded in places, but that should give it life for years to come.

vintage-tan-tooled-leather-bag

This bag is my favourite.  I found it in the vintage section on Etsy five years ago, and it’s rarely left my side since. It didn’t cost me very much money – I think the postage cost more than the bag, as it came from the States.

large-wooden-bead-necklace

This necklace came from a charity shop in Edinburgh (Shelter in Morningside – in my opinion the best charity shop in Edinburgh!).  I don’t wear necklaces very often, being a mum to a small child, so it was a treat to wear it for these photos.

buying-secondhand-shoes

I bought these boots secondhand on eBay last year, and have worn them in all weather.  They’re so comfortable and soft.

And voila, my secondhand sustainable outfit!  What do you think?

EDIT: I’ve put together a post on my top eBay shopping tips that you might find useful!