Sitting in the garden watching pollen-covered bees buzzing gently from flower to flower is a lovely demonstration of nature at work – and probably one we all take a little for granted.
But our bees are in crisis and, as a consequence, their vital role in the garden is under threat… it may sound ominous, but the good news is that all gardeners can make a significant difference – so it’s time to act!
What’s the problem?
Bees are under threat as many of their natural and diverse food sources have declined – as a result colony numbers are in decline, and are therefore weaker. Weaker colonies are vulnerable to attack by the Varroa mite – which makes them very susceptible to diseases for which they have no natural defence.
So just how important are bees to us?
As bees move from flower to flower, they pollinate and fertilise plants, which triggers the production of fruit and seeds. We rely on honey bees to pollinate a diverse range of plants such as apples, carrots, blueberries, broccoli, onions, squash, raspberries and almonds – plus some plants used to produce clothing and shelter – and chocolate! Without bees, we simply wouldn’t have as much food to eat.
Did you know…
- One in 3 mouthfuls of food relies on pollination
- 34% of our honey bee colonies were lost last year
- Honey production fell by 70% in 2014
What can you do?
As gardeners, it’s easy for us play a vital role in securing the future of bees – because with just a little careful thought, we can introduce nectar-rich plants into our gardens throughout the seasons. And it’s a win-win – we get more beautiful flowers to enjoy and all bees, not just honey bees, will visit to enjoy the valuable nectar source you’ll be providing!
Create a pollen party in your garden throughout the seasons by planting…
- flowering trees such as Winter-flowering cherries, crab apples and magnolias
- large flowering shrubs such as quince, ceanothus, forsythia, cotoneaster, buddleja, viburnum and shrub roses
- smaller flowering shrubs such as choisya, rosemary, lavender, hebes, potentilla, thyme and hydrangeas
- climbers such as clematis, honeysuckle, ivy and climbing roses
- perennials such as geum, geranium, veronica, sedum, globe thistle, salvia, campanula, poppies, anemones and sage
- annuals such as cosmos, pansies and violas
- and bulbs such as snowdrops, crocus, muscari, wood anemone, chives and allium.
To attract and support bees you should:
- aim to have plants that are attractive to pollinating insects in flower from early Spring to late Autumn, and include Winter-flowering varieties too.
- grow plants with flowers that bees love, as suggested above, but try to avoid those with double or multi-petalled flowers, as these can prove difficult to access and often don’t have nectar and pollen.
- never use pesticides on plants when they are in flower
- encourage bees by creating nest sites – with boxes containing hollow plant stems, or holes drilled in blocks of wood, available in-store.
Now you can see just how much bees need our help – and how easy it is to make a difference!
Pop in and peruse our extensive collection of bee-friendly plants – and do your bit to get Britain buzzing again!