How to attract bees to your garden

As bee populations continue to dwindle due to bad weather, we show you how you can help conserve these vital pollinators.

 
 
 
  • Bumble bee on pink flower
    Hannah Stephenson
    By   | Journalist, Press Association
    Last updated: 01 August 2013, 16:35 BST

    Reports that our bee population is at crisis point as numbers have been hit by long winters should prompt responsible gardeners to protect our bees by creating a prosperous environment for them.

    Last year's annual survey by the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) indicated an increase in losses of honey bees and the organisation is concerned that losses may be even greater this year if the long winter is anything to go by.

    "Much longer winters mean that bees are potentially running out of stores," says Gill Maclean, BBKA spokeswoman.

    The honey bee is the only bee to maintain a colony throughout the winter, reducing its colony size in autumn and relying on its stores of honey to last it through the winter months when it is too cold for foraging or there is no forage available.

    Some colonies may have since been lost simply by running out of stores.

    However, gardeners can do their bit to help bees, says Maclean. Here are her  top tips on how to attract more of them into your garden:

     
     
     

    Related stories  

    Tags  

     
  • Bee on lavender
    Hannah Stephenson
    By   | Journalist, Press Association
    Last updated: 01 August 2013, 16:35 BST

    • Planting the right sort of plant is important and try to plant in drifts. There are so many bee-friendly plants including thyme, lavender, oregano, mint and viburnum.

    • Plant some trees for bees as well, including spring-flowering cherries, apples, plums and pears. All blossoms are widely visited by bees including blackthorn, cherry, plum, damson and crab apple. Other trees that are widely visited are the horse chestnut for its nectar and sycamore for its pollen.

    • Set aside part of the garden as a decorative wildflower area, which will be a magnet for bees, planting white and red clover, borage, thyme, bugle and other bee-friendly plants.

    • Bees need water, so you can do something like fill a pot lid with water and put stones in it and netting over it so that they can drink without falling in.

    • Gardeners should make sure they provide a succession of bee-friendly plants which will flower between February and November, to give bees the best chance of building up their stores.

    • Avoid plants with double or multi-petalled flowers, which may lack nectar and pollen, or insects may have difficulty in gaining access.

    • Never use pesticides on plants when they are in flower.

    • Observe the plants in your garden. If you know of plants with blooms that regularly attract insects, let the RHS know.

    • Choose flowers that bloom successively over the spring, summer and fall, such as coreopsis, Russian sage or germander, in order to provide pollen and nectar resources to the native bees of all seasons.

    • Encourage bees by keeping honey bees yourself or allowing a beekeeper to place hives in your garden. Nest boxes containing cardboard tubes or hollow plant stems, or holes drilled in blocks of wood will provide nest sites for some species of solitary bees. Such nests are available from garden centres or you can make your own. Place these nest sites in sunny positions. Some solitary bees nest in the ground, either in bare soil or short turf. They will find their own nest sites, so tolerate the small mounds of soil deposited by the female bees when they excavate their nest tunnels.

    If you want to become a beekeeper, details of county beekeepers' associations and training courses can be seen on www.bbka.org.uk

     
     
     

    Related stories  

    Tags  

     

Claire Spreadbury

on stress-free fertility

How many stories do you hear about couples failing IVF umpteen times, only to give up and then fall pregnant naturally?"

Most popular

House & Home   

We love...

We love...

From cushions to lamps, get your interiors fix with these fabulous must-buys.