We’re buzzing for World Bee Day which is one Friday 20th May this year, and to celebrate we’re sharing our top tips on how to make your garden more bee-friendly.
Why are bees important?
Bees play an extremely important role in balancing the ecosystem and encouraging biodiversity. Bees help to pollinate plants by transferring large grains of pollen, which are carried by the hairs on their body and deposited as they go from flower to flower. Bees, among other pollinators, are responsible for pollinating up to three quarters of the crops and plants that provide 90% of the world’s food supply.
However, farming practices, global warming, disease, and other man-made causes are triggering a decrease in the world’s bee population, which will lead to an impact on the world’s food supply as crops struggle to thrive.
How can having a bee friendly garden help?
You don’t have to have a large garden in order to help bees, a simple bee-friendly patio or green space can be a vital resource. Bees can benefit from nectar and pollen rich flowers, which you can grow either in pots or the ground over a long season. Attracting bees to your garden will also help to increase pollination and give you more flowers.
Top tips for a bee hotel
While most people have heard of honeybees and bumblebees, did you know that there are actually around 270 individual species of bee in Britain, many of which are solitary and do not live in colonies or hives. Solitary bees seek dry, hollow holes in wood, or other small pre-existing tunnels or plant stems for suitable nesting opportunities. Bee hotels, which can be bought readymade, or put together at home from bits of wood and wooden tunnels, provide the perfect spot for solitary bees to lay their eggs. Not only is this an easy and affordable way to help the bee population and local ecology, it’s also a great way to teach children about the importance of bees in a fun and interactive way. Things to remember when getting a bee hotel:
- Locate the box at least 1 metre from the ground e.g. on a wall or fence
- Locate in a sheltered spot in full sun, ideally south, or south east facing
- Place near vegetation, but not where the box will be obstructed (you want the bees to find it!)
- Plant bee friendly flowers underneath or near the box to give the bees a nearby food source
- Provide a mud source, which the bees will use to plug the entrance of the holes to protect the nest against predators
- Put out your box in early spring (around March), you’ll know when your box has residents as the holes will be blocked with mud/leaves. You might even see bee’s flying in and out!
- Don’t be disheartened if no bees use the box in the first year. Planting more bee friendly flowers near your box should help attract them.
The most common bees you can expect to find in your bee hotel are leaf-cutter bees and mason bees, which are gentle and non-aggressive, so you won’t need protective clothing when watching them! They are also much more effective pollinators than bumblebees and honeybees so they are great for the local environment.