Five Easy Ways To Make Your Garden Bee-Friendly

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Kirsten Harford
29 May 2024

We always talk about our gardens as if they belong to us but actually, we share our gardens with a whole host of other creatures. Some we don’t get on so well with - slugs and snails but some, like bees, are vital. They’re the good guys and we need to look after them which is why we’re encouraging everyone to make their outdoor spaces (big and small) as bee friendly as possible.

It’s thought that about three-quarters of the world’s crop species depend on them – we’ll say that again, three quarters of the world’s crops depend on bees! All that hard work can make a bee very tired. With numbers declining due to habitat loss and damaging pesticides, it has never been so important to do everything we can to ensure these yellow and black buzzing balls of energy thrive. Here are our top tips for creating a space in your garden where they can set up home and refuel –

1. Bee Friendly Plants

The obvious one! Choosing the right plants is the first step towards creating a bee-friendly garden. Create a wild area, add clover to your lawn or create a herb garden. Adding planting doesn’t need to be expensive because there’s only two things a bee really needs and that’s pollen and nectar from the flowers! Here are some of our favourite low-maintenance plants that will encourage bees to come into your garden.

  • Lavender: Its fragrant flowers are a bee favourite, especially good for attracting bumblebees
  • Foxgloves: These strikingly beautiful plants provide a particularly rich nectar source
  • Borage: Known for its blue star-shaped flowers, borage is self-seeding so will come back each year to help bees
  • Heather: Perfect for year-round blooming, heathers provide consistent food sources for bees, butterflies and other bugs

2. Drink Stations

They’re called busy bees for a reason – they’re super busy. All that pollen collection is thirsty work so make sure you have a source of fresh water even if it’s just a jar or bowl with pebbles topped up with water. The pebbles provide an easy means of escape and allow bees and other pollinators to drink.

3. Sugary Snack

It’s not uncommon to see a bee lying down on your garden path or taking a break on your window sill. Sometimes, they are simply exhausted and need our help. One easy way to help them is to give them an energy boost with a sugary water solution.

Mix up one spoonful of water to two spoonfuls of sugar and leave on a spoon or something very flat so the exhausted bee can reach it without having to move. After it has fed on the solution, leave it to rest and recuperate. When it’s ready, it will fly away.

4. Provide a Home or Resting Place

Create piles of sticks and straw or bricks and wood with holes drilled into them. They make the perfect place for bees to rest or stay awhile. Planting wildflowers can provide shelter and shade as can hedges and shrubbery.

You can also make bee hotels – a great summer holiday activity to do with the kids or you can buy them in garden centres and most DIY stores.

5. Avoid Chemicals

Pesticides and herbicides can be harmful to bees and other pollinators. Opt for organic gardening methods to keep your garden healthy and bee-friendly. Companion planting and cultivating plants for natural predators can help manage pests without chemicals.

 

Identifying bees

Finally, let’s talk bee species – there are three types of bees which can populate your garden

  1. Honey bees – they live in hives of up to 60,000 at a time! And you guessed it, they make us delicious tasting honey
  2. Bumble bees – 26 different species live in Britain and some of them are very rare
  3. Solitary bees – those that live alone in little nooks and crannies. There are over 270 species of solitary bees in the UK

Find out more about identifying bees here.