Want to know how to attract bees to your garden?  Let me share with you my bee-based secrets!

The poor bees have taken a beating lately.  Between wet summers, a reduction in their natural habitat, disease, and the January 2021 UK Government decision to reintroduce the use of pesticides harmful to bees in the UK, the number of butterflies and bees in the UK has drastically plummeted.  Which as well as being bad news for bees, is bad news for us.  This is because it’s estimated that at least a third of the plants we eat are directly or indirectly dependent on being pollinated by bees.

Our little fuzzy friends need all the help they can get to help recover their population.  First, you can sign the petition to overturn the decision to allow farmers to use bee-harming pesticides in the UK. There are also heaps of things you can do in either your garden or window box, depending on your situation.

Un-bee-lievable Ways To Attract Bees To Your Garden

A bee on a white flower with a blue text box that says how to attract bees to your garden.

Not sure where to start? Here’s a Moral Fibres guide on how to attract bees to your garden (or window box):

The Plants That Attract Bees To Your Garden

What you plant has a big impact on attracting bees to your garden. Aim to plant a diverse mix of nectar and pollen-rich plants. Not sure what to plant? Steer towards traditional native plants. Think cottage garden and you’re on the right lines.  From roses to lavender, to clematis, to hollyhocks, as well as other classic British varieties such as alliums, butterburs, and geraniums.

If you want something that you can enjoy as much as the bees then edible flowering herbs are a great choice. Herbs such as chives, thyme and lemon balm are highly valued by bees. These are also great choices for window boxes if you don’t have a garden.

This post on bee-friendly plants is also very handy!

The 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, for example, are best used only as part of a wide range of different flowers in your garden.

Give The Bees A Home

bee hotel to attract bees to your garden

A bee hotel* will attract and encourage solitary bees to lay eggs in your garden.  We popped one in our garden, and it has been amazing to sit and watch the bees going in and out of it, and stuffing it with bits of leaves. For a low-cost option, you can bundle some bamboo canes in a southwest corner of your garden, out of prevailing winds.  You can also drill holes in some bits of wood, which will also do the job the no-cost way.

Provide Water to Attract Bees

It’s also a little-known fact that bees need drinking water. A small shallow dish in your garden filled with pebbles will suffice – you don’t want to drown the bees. Make sure some pebbles sit above the water, to allow the bees somewhere to rest whilst collecting water.

Make sure you keep your dish topped up with water throughout the summer. Collecting precious nectar and pollen is thirsty work after all. It’s also a little-known fact that honey bees use water for cooling down their hive in the warm summer months.

Bee Lazy

If all this gardening sounds like too much hard work then don’t worry. 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 most weeds are just as beneficial as any other plants in your garden, if not more beneficial. 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.

The best bit is, the more bees you can attract to your garden then the more your garden will grow with minimal effort from you. This is because the bees will do all the hard work of pollinating all of your flowers and vegetables.

Bee Frugal

how to attract bees to your garden or windowbox

You can buy already established bee-friendly plants at garden centres. However, it’s really easy to get carried away in the garden centre and spend a ton of money.  

A much more cost-effective method is to pick up bee-friendly seeds at most garden centres and even supermarkets. This allows 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 single most cost-effective way of bee-friendly gardening, however, is by getting together with your friends, family, or neighbours, and taking 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 split plants. Other plants tolerate having cuttings taken from them – here’s some handy advice on taking cuttings.

With your cuttings, you could have a little free plant swap, and all go home with some new-to-you plants. Alternatively, you could have a mini-fundraiser. You could take a small payment for each plant, and donate the takings to a bee charity, such as the Bumblebee Conservation Trust or The Wildlife Trusts.

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

PS: This post on how to help bees even if you don’t have a garden shows you how to do your bit. And find out how to revive tired bees in case you find one on the ground in your garden.

Found this post useful?  You can buy me a virtual coffee to help support the site’s running costs.  You can also sign up for the free Moral Fibres monthly newsletter to get all the latest eco news and ideas straight to your inbox.