We all know that bees are essential for keeping our gardens and garden wildlife healthy. But did you know that bees are essential for worldwide pollination and crops? Without bees, it’s not just wildlife that doesn’t eat, it’s us, humans, too. So, this World Bee Day, let’s explore how you can attract bees to your outside space and look at ways to help them thrive.
Gardens are valuable environments for bees as they provide nectar and pollen and offer nesting habitats. So, whether it’s going chemical-free, creating friendly spaces or planting certain species of flowers, there are plenty of ways you can help.
Let’s explore easy ways you can support these crucial buzzy pollinators in your garden this World Bee Day…
Why do we need bees?
Bees play an essential role in maintaining the planet and are responsible for many things that we take for granted in day-to-day life. The fruits and vegetables we eat rely on pollination from bees to produce crops, and bees help plants that feed other animals too. Without bees, the world would be unrecognisable, and our ecosystem would be compromised.
It’s been suggested that there are fewer species of Bees in the world compared to previous years. The numbers are declining because of things like:
- Invasive farming methods.
- Damage to their habitats due to urban areas and building developments.
- Climate change.
- Chemical pesticides
- Invasive plant species and diseases.
Humans must pull together to protect bees and help them survive and their population recover for our way of life to continue.
6 Ways to Help Bees In Your Garden
Plant bee-friendly flowers
Did you know there are more than 20 kinds of Bee in the UK alone? That’s way more than expected, and they all have to eat!
One of the best ways to provide for bees is to have plenty of bee-friendly flowers, shrubs and trees in your garden. These flowers will help provide nectar and pollen as a source of energy for the Bees and their grubs.
The most useful plants for bees are ones that are single open flowers, where bees can easily access the centre of the flower where the pollen and nectar are. Some great flower species for bees include:
- Dahlias – grown from tubers that need winter protection.
- Allium – is grown from bulbs every year.
- Lavender – an evergreen perennial with a relaxing scent.
- Honeysuckle – a sweetly scented climbing perennial.
- Catmint – a hardy summer/autumn blooming perennial that dies back in winter.
- Foxgloves – a biennial that reseeds itself every two years.
- Cosmos – easy-to-grow annuals that are like big daisies.
- Nasturtium – big bold annuals which you can eat!
- Zinnia – a late-blooming annual which can also attract hummingbirds.
Annuals can be grown from seed, so make sure you check the packet for instructions, follow the rules of seed propagation and maybe even get your kids involved!
If you’d prefer to see trees and bigger shrubs, opt for apple trees, dog roses, hawthorn, holly or rowan trees.
Give the bees something to drink
Don’t forget that it’s not only birds that need access to water – bees do too! The ideal solution for all your garden wildlife is to have a pond in your garden that has some flat and safe places to land, like lily pads.
Alternatively, choose any type of shallow container and ensure there is plenty of floating material such as cork, sticks or sponges, so they can safely land.
If you notice an exhausted bee on the ground that doesn’t appear to be moving but isn’t dead, it may just need a quick drink of sugar water. Simply mix two teaspoons of white granulated sugar with one teaspoon of water and leave it close to the bee.
Create bee habitats
Not only do bees require a consistent source of food and water, but they also need shelter, somewhere to nest and lay eggs. Bee habitats are easy to create and can be done with just a few bits and pieces from around the garden. You could use a terracotta pot filled with dried grass or even build a bee hotel from a few materials around the garden; broken pots or tiles, a few pieces of wood, bamboo canes, dried sticks, rubble, and corrugated cardboard.
The aim of the game when it comes to building a bee hotel is to create a structure with lots of dark, cool hidey-holes. And make sure to build it in a shady, quiet area of the garden that won’t be disturbed.
Pesticides are one of the key factors that threaten the current bee population, so a quick and effective way to help them is by ceasing the use of chemicals in your garden. Whilst pests can be frustrating, they form part of a complex ecosystem and provide food for other species.
If you still need to purchase pesticides, carefully read the label to ensure that they do not contain any of the following toxic ingredients:
- Copper sulphate
- Diatomaceous earth
The safest way to deal with pests like caterpillars, slugs and beetles is to pop on a pair of gardening gloves and remove them, then transport them away from your garden. Straw around the base of your plants acts as a deterrent as well. You can also use a sharp stream of water from the hose to help remove smaller, pesky insects like aphids.
Let the grass grow
Bees love wildflowers and other lawn dwelling species such as buttercups and daisies, so save yourself some time and effort whilst supporting the bees by leaving the mower in the shed and letting the ‘weeds’ grow.
When is World Bee Day?
World Bee Day takes place on the 20th of May and aims to raise awareness about the importance of bees as crucial global pollinators. Why not spend some time this World Bee Day to see how you can make your garden more bee-friendly?
Now you know how to make your garden bee-friendly this year – helping to support the fuzzy little critters to thrive and sustaining the environment for years to come.