Each year, ‘Wild About Gardens’ focus on a different type of species; last year it was all bats, this year it’s wild bees. There is a bit of information on what Wild About Gardens Week is all about and why we need to protect wildlife here
Why wild bees?
Bees are important in our gardens, for pollination – flowers, plants, fruit and veg all need them – we wouldn’t have any apples without bees, they are an essential part of the food chain!
“With honeybees often stealing the show, we wanted to draw attention to the plight of the wide range of solitary and bumblebees that also need our help. And of course, helping out our pollinators helps us too, with the work of bees indirectly providing us with every third mouthful of food we eat. It’s no secret that many pollinators are facing threats. Insensitive land use, a reduction in plant species diversity and the use of insecticides have all been linked to declining bee numbers. This is bad news for us and for them.
But you can help…here’s a wonderful illustration, showing you how:
Here’s what we do in our garden…..
We have plants, shrubs and flowers that provide rich nectar throughout the seasons:
- Michaelmas daisies ‘purple in the border’ (my fav harvest hymn at primary school!)
- Verbena – they self-seed, so have sprung up in other parts of the garden
- Lavender – smells and looks beautiful, great for butterflies too
- Buddleia – we have 2 different varieties in our garden – white and purple – the white one flowered longer than the purple. Both were absolutely covered in butterflies this year
- Foxgloves – we haven’t got many, we intend to get more for the top bit of our garden. Great for height
- Chive flowers – absolutely great for bees and of course for cooking! (we use them in new potato salad)
- Honeysuckle – great for moths too. I love their sweet smell, especially in the evening
- Berberis – orange flowers literally buzzing with bees in spring, then the blackbirds eat the purple berries
- Verbenum – this was a gift from the RHS when I was made an Ambassador, we’ve just moved this as it was getting ‘crowded out’ by the buddleia
- Comfrey – makes a great plant feed, it’s great for bees and Mum’s sore feet
- Scabiosa – great small flower for insects
- Rambling rose – the leaf cutter bees really love this – they line their homes with the leaves
- Phlox – we got a clump from my Grandma’s friend, Meg and it flowers late
Over this past year we’ve taken photos of some of these:
Check out this list from the RHS perfect for pollinators for seasonal flowering plants
Make a home for bees
Bees need a places to live, different bees live in different places – some like to drill into the ground, others build holes in tunnels. This summer mining bees, tried to make their home in the banks of the pond, but it didn’t appear to work as they seemed to disappeared (maybe ‘cos we were working there, maybe ‘cos of ants??).
Mason bees, really like the cracks in the stonework, where they can make their nests.
The pond provides a place for bees to drink too
Of course, if this isn’t possible, you can always build a bug hotel ! I’ve built loads of these at school, scouts and at home over the years. This picture was took at RSPB Arne, where the bees were going crazy in their kitchen garden.
Although our garden is practically a huge bug hotel as there’s pipes and canes everywhere!
It’s really important that you don’t use any herbicides or pesticides, as it could potentially kill bees – we don’t and never have.
Other ways I’ve been spreading the message
All year I’ve been handing out ‘Perfect for Pollinator’ seeds from the RHS Campaign for School Gardening at events and school visits, passing on the message of encouraging more wildlife into your garden.
In July, at Operation Farm’s Potluck Festival, I set up a Big Draw to spread the word too
In May I visited the Threave Estate in Dumfries; they had a huge event all about bees. I bought these 3 wildflower mixes.
We’ve never had much success with wildflowers; it could be that the garden slopes, there’s not much sun and other plants crowd them out. We are planning on sorting out an area that might be more suitable
I’ve even been known to dress like a bee!!