Bees provide an essential service for the environment, in the form of pollination. They help to maintain the ecosystem, offering biodiversity and balance. By pollinating food crops, bees keep us fed with healthy, natural produce. They also pollinate wild plants, which in turn helps other insects to feed. Crucially bees help in the pollination of trees, which is vital to our survival, as new trees help to clean the air that we breathe.
The humble bee is also a beautiful insect that we love to see buzzing around our gardens. We have put together 5 easy ways that you can attract bees to your garden, which will be great for you to watch, as well as incredibly helpful for the environment.
Different types of plant can attract different types of bees, so it’s not necessarily one size fits all. A foxglove will attract a species that has a longer tongue, as the nectar is found further inside the plant, whilst an helenium and a rose will be perfect for short tongued bees. Geraniums, peonies, plume thistles, lavender and thyme are also a great option, looking beautiful in your garden and providing a feeding wonderland for bees.
As with all insects and animals, water is essential to their health and wellbeing. However, water can be harder to come by in the heat of summer when bees are at their most active, so we can make it more readily available for them in our gardens. Simply leave a shallow dish or tray in a safe place, or if you have a pond, float some corks where they have somewhere to hang onto while they drink.
As soon as the spring and summer hit us, we are usually very quick to mow the lawns and remove any weeds that have suddenly appeared. However, dandelions and white clover, which are considered weeds, are great pollinating spots for bees. If you still feel that you want to mow your lawn, perhaps leave some areas untouched so that bees are encouraged into your garden.
If you can, avoid the use of pesticides in your garden, as this may cause illness or death for visiting bees. If you must use something, use only natural pesticides and apply them early in the morning or in the late evening, as bees tend to be asleep at these times and it allows the pesticide to soak into the ground where they can’t be reached.
Bee nests are readily available in pet stores or online, but it is a fun activity to build your own. Start with a wooden box that has an open front, ensuring that the roof is sloping in order to deflect any rain. Drill small holes into some loose logs or wood and then pile them inside the box, which is where bees will hopefully choose to nest inside.