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.
Not sure where to start? Here’s a Moral Fibres guide on how to attract bees to your garden (or window box):
Un-bee-lievable ways to attract bees to your garden
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 and thyme 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
A bee hotel* will encourage solitary bees to lay eggs in your garden. We popped one in our garden, and it was 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 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.
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 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.
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.
You can buy already established plants at garden centres. However, it’s really 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. 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 do it. Or you can take cuttings from them. 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.
And that’s how to attract bees to your garden! Have I missed anything? Do let me know in the comments below!