Supporting bees in your garden

Our gardens and growing spaces are becoming increasingly important refuges for bees and other pollinators. Here are a few simple tips to help support bees in your garden:

Planting – many of our native wildflowers are important sources of pollen and necatar. These include:

Comfrey  Symphytum officinalis
Cowslip Primula veris.
Common poppy  
Papaver spp
Cornflower, Centaurea cyanus
Fennel Foeniculum vulgare.
Foxglove, Digitalis purpurea.
Forget-Me-Not Myosotis arvensis.
Solidago spp
Greater knapweed, Centaurea scabiosa
Mint Mentha spp
Stinking hellebore Helleborus foetidus.
Dipsacus fullonum.
Thistle C
irsium vulgare
Thrift  Armeria maritime.
Whorled clary Salvia verticillata

The important thing is to provide bees and other pollinators with pollen and nectar throughout the year.  

Top 3 plants for insects in Spring 
These flowers will provide a vital source of pollen and nectar for over-wintering insects emerging from hibernation.
Wallflowers, Dandelion, Pulmonaria (Lungwort)
Top 3 plants for insects in Summer
Insects need a variety of pollen and nectar sources during this busy time.  And different species find different flower forms easier to feed from.
The umbelliferae family (yarrow, fennel, cow parsley), are loved by hoverflies and lacewings; 
Lavender, marjoram, phacelia - provide for deep-feeding honeybees.  
Buddleia, scabious and mint flowers suit the long feeding proboscis of butterflies.
Top 3 plants for insects in Autumn
As winter draws near many flowers have already set seed. But insects need to search out food before the first frosts. Choose these late bloomers to help them build up reserves.
Michaelmas daisies, Heather, Dahlia

Top 3 plants for insects in pots and balconies
Why not let your herb pots go to flower – they’ll feed you and the bees!
Borage, Lavender, Rosemary

Top 3 plants for evening scent 
Insects fly until the last light fades.  These scented flowers will attract them as the day wanes:
Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Sweet Rocket

  • Gardening techniques – don’t be too tidy in the garden! Hollow stalks can provide winter shelter for pollinators and other insects, so do leave some as winter habitat
  • Natural Habitat – long grass, log piles and hedgerow plants help to provide shelter and protection for bees and other insects
  • Water – a shallow-edged water dish with pebbles in it can provide bees with somewhere to drink
  • Bug hotels – bug hotels provide homes for solitary bees and other insects. These are easy to make from old hollow sticks or bamboo canes, air-bricks, dry straw, logs with holes drilled into them, old carpet tied into rolls and other materials that can provide a dry habitat with plenty of space for insects to shelter in. old pallets can be used to make a frame, or you can make a smaller bug hotel using your own timber to make an open-sided frame.
  • Protect swarms – If you see a swarm of bees, contact the local authority or the police, who will contact a local beekeeper to collect the swarm and give it a safe new home.