Did you know that there are more than 200 species of bee in the UK? Only one of them is the honeybee, and just over 20 are bumblebees. The rest are solitary bees.
It is generally accepted that pollinators such as bees are in decline and gardens offer some of the most important habitats for the wide variety of bees found in the UK. It is thought that almost 75% of all crops rely on pollinators to produce fruit and vegetables so it’s crucial we do all we can to protect them.
Here’s some top tips to make your garden a bee-haven.
Make a wild corner
If your garden has a south-facing bank, consider leaving it as a wild corner – it could offer great nest sites for warmth-loving solitary bees.
Sheltered, shady corners that are out of the way are much more attractive to bumblebees.
Include a few upturned/broken plant pots with some points of entry for added shelter.
Find the right flowers
Next time you visit a garden centre, think like a bee. Many plants have been bred to have lots of petals, but these make it hard to access the nectar.
So, go for more ‘open’ plants. The RHS ‘Perfect for Pollinators’ tags are helpful; also look out for those that are already attracting bees.
If you have a small garden, consider planting seasonal containers with bee-friendly plants. To create nesting sites for solitary bees, you can simply push a few bamboo canes into the soil.
Pesticides will almost certainly harm your bumblebees. To keep pests at bay, try planting key plants in combination.
For example, Marigolds and tomatoes will repel greenfly and blackfly; garlic among roses will deter aphids.
Create a bee hotel
Tie together a bunch of bamboo canes or drill 5–10mm holes into a block of wood. Hang it around head height in a sunny, south-facing spot to provide a home for solitary bees.