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Garden, Home and Garden

How To Attract Bees to Your Garden

how to attract bees

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

how to attract bees to your garden or windowbox

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

bee hotel to attract bees to your garden

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.

Provide Water

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

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 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.

Bee Frugal

how to attract bees to your garden uk

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!

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.

Garden, Home and Garden

Seeds to Sow in April

seeds to sow in April

Are you growing vegetables this year?  To follow on from March’s sowing guide, here is a list of vegetable seeds to sow in April, as well as some handy growing tips. 

Seeds to Sow Outside in April

what to sow April UK

Beetroot

Sow your seeds 1cm deep into the soil. Space the seeds 10 cm apart, with 30 cm between rows.

Peas

Make a flat-bottomed trench around 5cm deep and 15cm wide. Sow the seeds evenly in the trench about 7.5 cm apart, before covering them with a light layer of soil.  If you sow a second row, space it at a distance equal to the height of the final pea crop.

Cabbage

Sow at a depth of 2cm, 25 cm apart.  Leave 30 cm between rows.

Carrots

Thinly sow the seeds, at a depth of 1cm, in rows 15–30 cm apart. Thin out seedlings if necessary – you should aim for your carrot plants to be 5 – 7.5cm apart.

Kale

Sow at a depth of 1 cm, leaving 60 cm between seeds and rows.

Leeks

Sow at a depth of 1 cm, 15 cm apart.  Leave 30 cm between rows.

Spinach

Sow your seeds 2.5cm apart, at a depth of 1cm.  Leave 30 cm between rows.

Rocket

Sow your seeds thinly, at a depth of 0.5 – 1cm.  Leave 15 cm between rows.  When the seedlings appear, thin them to make sure plants are 15cm apart.

Broccoli

Sow three seeds 2cm deep, leaving 30cm between each row.

Broad Beans

Sow seeds at a depth of 5cm, with and 20cm between each seed. They are best sown in double rows, with the rows 20cm part. 

Brussels Sprouts

Sow seeds thinly at a depth of 13mm, with 15cm between rows. 

Cauliflower

Sow seeds thinly at a depth of 2cm. Depending on the size of the variety you’re growing, rows should be between 15 cm apart for small varieties to 60 cm apart for larger ones.

Chard

Sow seeds at a depth of 2.5cm, with 10cm between each seed, in rows 45cm apart.

Kohl Rabi

Sow seeds, 1 cm deep in rows 30 cm apart.

Beet Spinach

Sow your seeds 2.5cm apart, at a depth of 1cm.  Leave 30 cm between rows.

Lettuce

Sow thinly at a depth of 1cm, leaving 30 cm between rows.

Radish

Sow seeds thinly at a depth of 1cm, with a spacing of around 2.5 cm between each seed.  If sowing in rows, aim for 15 cm between each row.

produce in season in february

Seeds to Sow Undercover In April

what to sow april

French Beans

Sow French beans in small pots, sowing one bean in each, planted at a depth of 5cm deep. Place the pots in a cold frame, or another sheltered and warm spot.  

Lettuce 

Sow seed thinly at a depth of 13mm, in rows 30cm apart, and cover with a cloche or tunnel.  

Sweetcorn

Grow sweetcorn in a warm, sheltered, sunny position, protected from strong winds.  I find a polytunnel works best.  Sweetcorn is pollinated by the wind, therefore seeds should be sown in blocks rather than rows, 45cm apart. Try sowing two or three seeds at each point, then thin out the extra seedlings to leave just the strongest one.

Seeds to Sow in Heat in April

seeds to plant in April

Aubergine

Sow at 18-21°C in small pots.

Cucumbers

Sow cucumber seeds on their side, at a depth of 1cm, in small pots. Keep them warm in a heated propagator, greenhouse, or on a sunny indoor windowsill.

Celery

Sow celery seeds thinly in seed trays or pots of moist compost at 15°C. Then apply a very light covering of fine vermiculite or sieved compost. Transplant the young seedlings into 7.5 cm pots when several true leaves appear. 

Tomatoes

Sow in small pots, then either place in a propagator or cover each pot with a clear plastic bag and place on a sunny windowsill. The seedlings need to be kept at around 18°C. Once two true leaves have formed, transplant them into 9cm pots.

I’m going to get a few things going on our windowsill this month, and I’ll keep you updated!  There’s a lot of choices when it comes to what seeds to sow in April.  What are you sowing this month?

Happy growing!

ps: I have lots of other useful gardening guides on Moral Fibres.  From some great sustainable garden ideas to why you should choose peat-free compost.

And if you’ve found this page through Google then you may be interested in May’s sowing guide for next month, and for future reference, you may be interested in my March sowing guide!  Bookmark them for later!