While chatting with our postman I saw a bee- my first of the year. This early fuzzy visitor ushered in sweet reminders that Spring is truly on its way but after standing shivering for a while watching it dance on the breeze I decided to research what I could do to help our bees through these still cold months.
Many of our bee species (bumblebees and solitary bees) are declining globally. We can really help them by providing nectar-rich plants for them, this is what I found out;
Many flowers and shrubs found in garden centres are no good for for bees – they just don't produce any nectar or pollen. So this may help you choose wisely to provide a delicious feast for our hungry bees.
BEST BEE-FRIENDLY WINTER PLANTS
Crocus, hellebore and winter heather (Erica carnea) will provide food for late-flying and early-emerging in bumblebees during colder months.
BEST BEE-FRIENDLY SPRING PLANTS
Aubretia (Aubreta), bugle (Ajuga), spotted deadnettle (Lamium maculatum), lungwort (Pulmonaria) or snake's-head fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris) all provide food for early bumblebees and solitary bees.
BEST BEE-FRIENDLY SUMMER PLANTS
Allium (especially Allium sphaerocephalon), borage, catmint (Nepeta) Cirsium rivulare, foxglove (Digitalis) and most herbs will throng with all manner of different wild bees.
BEST BEE-FRIENDLY AUTUMN PLANTS
Bugbane (Actaea simplex), Caryopteris, Dahlias (single-flowered) and ivy give bees a source of nectar well into autumn.
Plant your bee-friendly flowers in sunny, sheltered places, as this is what bees prefer. Plant in clumps – bees like a banquet, not a snack. Give your plants lots of water in hot, dry weather as this will help them produce nectar. You can use water collected in a water butt.
On warm, sunny days, you should notice several different species of happy bees visiting your garden, be it huge and meandering or a simple window box. Sit back and listen to their gentle hum as they busily stock up.