We all need to ‘bee aware’ these days. There have been many news articles and media stories about our declining bee population and the potential impacts to human and plant life.
As responsible, sustainable lives are establishing themselves as the norm, we need to know what we can do to attract and keep bumble bees coming to our backyards and gardens.
We’ve put together an array of hints, tips and tricks to keep the fluffy wonders coming back for more. Why not give some, or all of them, a go?
Cease the use of pesticides in your garden, or at the very least drastically reduce the amount you use.
Such chemicals, while still approved for garden use, contain harmful elements such as neonicotinoids thiacloprid and acetamiprid.
These ingredients are believed to cause damage to the Bee’s nervous system, and its ability to fly.
The addition of an insect house to any home’s garden is a great idea to attract and invite lone bees and other insects to make their nest there.
You can buy ‘bespoke bee hotels’ from many decent garden centres or online retailers.
It’s also possible to make your own, so long as it has a waterproof roof.
Ever seen a bee that looks tired out and lethargic? It’s usually a sign they’re dehydrated. Many people don’t believe this can happen, but it does.
You can help stop this by placing shallow dishes of water around your garden/yard or around flowers you know they are attracted to. Bees will gravitate towards this and automatically drink.
Not many people have heard of Bee Balm, but it’s a delightful plant that is sometimes known as Horsemint, so it might be worth looking for at your local garden center or nursery.
It costs very little to buy and nothing to plant. It will give your garden a riot of color and will keep bees flocking to you.
If you can’t find Horsemint or don’t have room for it in your garden keep in mind that bees are simply attracted to anything highly colorful.
They love blues, purples and yellows particularly. When deciding what colors to use in your garden, opt for these in prominent places. Bees will flock to such a riot of color.
Never kill, swat or aggravate a bee. If you have youngsters around, teach them the importance of this too.
Bees are not the same as wasps and don’t sting if they are left alone to feed and fly around in peace.
If they are left alone, they will leave you alone too. Respecting their environment is key.
Just like humans, bees don’t like anything too complicated. Flowers that have lots of layers, for instance peonies, make it very difficult for them to feed from.
Pick flat flowers that might have only one petal as they will offer the bee a chance to feed, but easily.
Think local, think native. Just as we are told to source the food we eat as locally as possible, so we should do the same with our gardens and the plants we buy and grow.
Bees love the flora and fauna that is native to the area they fly around in. It’s familiar for them and will ensure they keep coming back.
Take a look at what grows regionally and do as much as you can to put these plants into your garden.
If you were at a restaurant, you wouldn’t want all the courses of your meal to turn up at once. The same applies to planting flowers to attract bees.
They don’t want to have all their ‘food’ at the beginning of the season, only for it to die off quickly and they’re left starved.
Plan on staggering how you plant your flowers and shrubs all through the season, so they get a steady supply of nutrients. Bees will appreciate it and keep coming back.
Many gardeners take a real pride in their lawn, keeping it neat, mown and free of weeds. However, it might be time to think about letting it grow a little wilder in places and allowing some flowers like dandelions to come through.
These are perfect bee plants, that provide essential pollen at the start of the season. White Clover is manna from heaven for Honeybees, while Red Clover is perfect food fodder for Bumblebees.
Letting your lawn grow a little longer can be beneficial too. If you don’t want to do this all over your garden, think about having a special section to do it in, a ‘wild’ space.
Make it your mission to buy only organic plants, bulbs and seeds that are pesticide free.
When you plant or cultivate, grow them without insecticides. Keep your garden as unadulterated as possible in terms of what additives you put into and onto your plants and soils.
You should be able to look online and find a list of organic plant suppliers and nurseries in your local area.
To be able to sustain themselves, bees require lots of flowers in one concentrated area. To this end, you should also think about planting big shrubs and small trees in the same spaces too.
These provide a vital source of food and energy for bees. In fact, in a larger garden, five well established trees would help provide a similar amount of pollen and nectar as roughly an acre of meadow.
When thinking about what trees to plant, opt for varieties such as Hazel, Wild Cherry or Willow trees. These will flower in winter or early spring and thus provide a regular, stable source of sustenance.