It’s no secret that bee numbers are declining and there are lots of things we can do to provide them with sustenance this summer. In order to get the lush garden you’ve always dreamed of it’s important to provide bees with flowers to pollenate and there are a number of species perfect for just that.
1. Plant lots of ‘single bloom’ flowers
‘Double flowered’ refers to flowers with extra petals which have been bred without stamens. They tend to have fuller petals and look very beautiful, but the lack of pollen makes them a bad choice for bees. Instead, plant tonnes of ‘single bloom’ flowers like single Dahlias (pictured below) where the nectar and pollen are easy to get to for bees.
2. Tubular flowers
Garden bumblebees have particularly long tongues so enjoy flowers like Foxgloves and Honeysuckle which have tubular shaped flowers. They'll add great height to your garden as well as stunning colour.
3. Plant lots of purple
According to scientists bees are able to see purple more clearly than any other colour. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t plant other flowers, but providing some purple species is sure to attract bees to your garden! Lavender and Buddleja are great varieties (Buddleja especially if you’d like to attract butterflies too).
4. Plant perennial plant varieties
Perennial plants last all year round and plants like the Bowles Mauve tend to flower for extended periods too. Even though many bees go into hibernation during the cooler months, queens and worker bees may emerge on warm days in winter. Therefore it’s a good idea to have nectar or pollen rich plants throughout the year, not just in summer. Better still – they’re purple!
Friends of the Earth have created a fantastic timeline for your garden indicating which months are best for the planting of different bee friendly species. You can download the full version by clicking on the image below.
Adding just a few of these species to your garden this summer can make all the difference, whether it’s in pots, hanging baskets or in a flower bed. However one thing to be wary of is buying plants from garden centres that use pesticides as these can be extremely harmful to bees, having the exact opposite effect! Researchers from Sussex and Padova universities advise seeking uncontaminated plants by growing your own from seeds, plant swapping with other keen gardeners or buying plants from an organic nursery.
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