Bees are key pollinators and their numbers are in decline. Without a healthy population there are serious implications for many garden plants and food crops. Sharon Jervis, the founder of giftware retailer Beefayre, offers advice on how to attract bees to your garden.
Plant lots of flowers of different colours and shapes. Blue, white, violet, purple and yellow are all particularly attractive to bees. The more diverse a collection the better. It’s important to have a variety of plants flowering throughout the growing season.
Pick excellent pollinator-friendly plants like lavender – a lavender bed would make a great addition in any garden for bees and other pollinators for example butterflies. Borage, comfrey, and native wildflowers are also great choices. Research has shown that native flowers are more attractive to bees than exotic non-native flowers.
Grow a little herb garden, many bee species are fond of herb flowers.
Planting flowers in clumps as oppose to singly will attract more bees. Clumps also provide much needed cover and food for butterfly larvae.
Choose a selection of crocus bulbs to plant in the autumn, as these are early spring flowering and important for bees that are waking up and needing energy. Ivy flowers provide a pollen source towards the end of the year.
Leave the dandelions! Dandelion pollen is very rich in fats, which are a very important energy source for bees and other pollinators. Allowing some of your garden to grow a little wild so clover and other flowers can bloom is another great effortless assistance to bees you can make.
Buy solitary bee nesting boxes, or alternatively make your own, to provide a nesting habitat. Fix these on a south facing wall where you can see them. A few bird nest boxes are also a good idea as these will be readily colonised by tree bumblebees.
Provide water when it warms up a bit, bees will appreciate a bird bath or somewhere where a little rain water can collect.
Do not use pesticides of any kind in your garden. There are harm free alternatives that can be used instead.
Consider beekeeping as a hobby! The British Bee Keepers Association run courses all over the country.