BRING IN BEES
• Plant blocks of the same flower
at least a metre wide so they are easy to find and the bees don’t need to move very far between each bloom.
• You don’t need to plant a dedicated garden plot for bees. Just include bee-friendly plants in among the vegetables, flower beds and around fruit trees. Grow flowering trees, shrubs and hedges.
• Plan a succession of flowers
so there is food available all year round. Pollen is rich in protein and is especially important in spring when lots of young bees are raised to increase the hive population numbers. Both pollen and nectar are needed over summer. Nectar is stored over autumn as honey to provide food for the winter.
• Ornamental flowers,
vegetables, herbs, shrubs and trees – native and introduced – can all provide bee food. So can weeds. Be mindful of bees before spraying or eradicating flowering weeds. Gorse and broom, for example, supply pollen in early spring when there is a shortage.
• Simple, open, single
traditional flowers give easier access to pollen than highly modified, double-petalled modern cultivars. So do the flattopped flower clusters on members of the Apiaceae family (carrots, fennel, parsley, coriander, parsnip) which act as landing pads for pollinators.
• Bees need water too.
Provide clean, shallow water with a landing platform for easy access and a beach gradient so bees can climb out if they fall in.
• Don’t spray at all
or if you must, spray early in the morning and at sunset when bees are not around. Don’t spray when plants are in flower and don’t let spray drift contaminate bees’ drinking water.
• Bees find their hive
using visual cues. If there are several hives side by side, bees will find their own home more easily if the hive boxes are painted in different colours.