Gardening For Bees


– we need bees and they need us!

Follow our top tips for bee-friendly gardening…

Bees are vital for pollinating our plants, including the fruit and vegetables we grow, and pollen and nectar produced by flowers are vital food for bees. A marriage made in heaven!

The following top ten tips can work anywhere – from a large garden in the country to a small window box in a city. Have a go and see what you can do!

  • Plant trees, shrubs, flowers, herbs, fruit and vegetables which give a good supply of nectar and pollen throughout the year. Bees forage from March into October, so early spring and autumn flowering plants are particularly beneficial.
  • Be an environmentally-friendly gardener to create safe havens for pollinating insects. Avoid products containing pesticides, insecticides, fungicides or herbicides. Try to choose organic seeds and compost to be certain no harmful chemicals reach your plants.
  • Feed your soil for strong productive flowers. Make your own compost and spread it regularly.
  • Choose a sunny site for pollinator attracting plants – grow in containers, if necessary. Herbs will be particularly successful in small or large pots or troughs – or even cracks in walls.
  • Let your herbs flower! Many herbs have really good supplies of nectar and pollen. Grow more than you need for feeding yourself so you are feeding the bees as well.
  • Include a water feature in your garden – bees need water to process their food and to regulate the humidity in the hive. A shallow pond with stones around the edge is ideal, and will also attract all sorts of other wildlife, but even a topped up saucer of water will be appreciated.
  • Choose plants with single flowers, and those that are as close to our native species as possible. Varieties bred to have showy double flowers are often sterile, so they have no stamens covered with pollen, and any nectar is hard for bees to find.
  • Plant bold colour groups – large swathes of the same flowers are most attractive to honeybees. But small groups are also valuable, particularly those at the top of the bees’ visual spectrum – purples, blues, greens, yellows and oranges – or with markings guiding bees to the pollen and nectar.
  • Create a mini wildflower meadow – sacrifice a corner of your lawn (or all of it!). Remove the turf and fertile topsoil and plant a selection of wildflower plugs or sow perennial or annual wildflower seeds.
  • Keep bees! Most beekeeping groups will run courses or direct you to where they are run – find out more from the National Beekeeping Centre at Furnace Farm.