Bring back the bees

Since 2006, the bee population has declined by roughly one-third every year. This phenomenon, known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), has been linked, in part, to a class of pesticide known as neonicotinoids.

Neonicotinoids are a systemic insecticide, absorbed into every cell of a plant, making the entire plant poisonous.

While pollinators include butterflies, bats, hummingbirds and others, bees are the star pollinators. Bees and other pollinators play a critical role when it comes to our food supply.

How to make a bee-friendly garden

Whether big or small, there are things every garden can do to help them. 

Grow plants with nectar and pollen

Grow a range of plants that will provide a continuous flowering period, especially from March to September. 

Some great annual plants for bees Cornflower, Cosmos, Borage, Sunflowers, Zinnia, Salvia, Dahlia, Snapdragons, Sweet Alyssum and many others.

Perennial plants Echinacea, Thyme, Aster, Yarrow, Lavender, Sedum, Phlox, Agastache and many large shrubs and trees.

Create bee hotels

Source Modern Farmer

A bee hotel is a great way to boost bee diversity in your garden, by attracting solitary species. Solitary bees lay their eggs in the hollow cavities, leaving a small supply of food for the larvae to eat. The larvae then hatch, pupate and emerge from the stems. Always position bee hotels in full sun.

Make bee nests

Source BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine

Queen bumblebees seek out places to hibernate in autumn and early winter. They then emerge in late winter and early spring seeking a place to start a nest. You can provide a cosy, safe home for them to hibernate in by creating a bumblebee pot or nest.

Relax on weeding

It’s easy to forget that many of the plants we consider weeds actually do a brilliant job at supporting wildlife. Lawn clovers and even dandelions will attract and provide pollen and nectar for bees.

Consider a water feature

All pollinators need a water source. A large birdbath with pebbles around the edge to create a shallow drinking spot is good.

It’s not uncommon to find bees at an apparent standstill appearing tired, particularly in winter or in inclement weather. To get them back on their feet, you can mix a sugar solution by mixing equal parts warm water and sugar. Place near the bee’s head in a bottle cap or something similar, and it should stick out its proboscis to drink, energize and warm up.

BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine