Bees are in decline all around the world, but especially in the UK. Loss of habitat, pesticides and other factors add to their decline, however there’s some things you can do to make a bee-friendly garden and help slow down the loss of these incredible creatures. Bees are vital to our Earth so it’s important we stop this decline as soon as possible. Not only will creating a bee haven help the bees, but it will make your garden thrive too. In this post, we’ll be sharing a few easy things you can do at home to help save the bees!
1. Plant flowers
Bees feed on flowers, so without them they have nothing to eat. A bumblebee can fly for around 40 minutes after eating before it could die, so it’s important that bees have lots to feed on all around the country on their bumbling journeys. A few favourites for bees include foxgloves, alliums, viper’s bugloss, fuchsia, dahlias, geranium, white comfrey, sunflowers…pretty much anything you can plant is better than nothing and bees particularly love purple/blue flowers! Seedball have a special mix especially for bees called “Bee Mix” which is available at Nectar & Bumble and contains flowers recommended by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust as wonderful for bees.
You can also create a flowering herb garden to attract the bees by planting lavender, mint, rosemary, borage, sage and thyme! If you’ve not a (large) garden, hanging baskets are a great option as well as window boxes. Try to buy flowers that are organically grown, and seeds that haven’t been treated with pesticides beforehand. Also, try to plant a variety that will be available for most of the year from around February to October so that early risers have something to feed on!
2. Avoid pesticides & buy organic/pesticide free
Pesticides in your garden can seriously harm and even kill bees and other vital pollinators. Avoid them at all costs and find alternatives. Buy flowers that are organically grown, and seeds that haven’t been treated with pesticides beforehand.
3. Set up a Bee ‘n’ Bee
There are around 250 different types of bees in the UK; 24 bumblebees, 1 honey bee and the rest are solitary bees who need a place to live. You can create bee hotel which will help provide a habitat for solitary bees, especially over the Winter. You can buy these online and in shops, or you can create your own but you need to look after them too. They work by providing a habitat for solitary bees – a female solitary bee will place a portion of pollen inside the tubular hole and lay a single egg on top of it, before sealing up the entrance with mud (this is how you can tell you have guests!) The eggs hatch into larvae which will feed on the pollen until new bees emerge the following Spring. There’s lots of sites who show you how to make bee hotels, but we like this one on the Telegraph in particular. They're becoming more popular and Aldi often have deals on them too.
4. Create a bee bath
Bees get thirsty too – they do a lot of flying about so create a bee bath for them for when they need a little bit of water in between flights. Line a shallow bowl or plate with rocks/marbles. Add water but leave the rocks as dry islands to serve as “landing pads” for the bees. Put the bath at ground level in your garden, near some plants that they can feed on after their drink. Change the water daily to keep it clean and fresh for the bees!
5. Don’t step on or harm the bees!
Most people often get honey bees confused with wasps. Bees won’t sting you unless they feel threatened or if they’re under attack so try to stay calm if a bee comes near you, and please don’t kill them! If you see a bumblebee on the floor, it may not be dead but just a little tired. Mix some sugar with water and feed it to the bee, then place it on a flower if it’s back to its buzzing self!
We'd love to see how you make your garden bee-friendly...share your photos or comments below!