Join us today

Could you give £5 a month to help protect once plentiful wildflower meadows or woodland butterflies under threat? Our work to protect our local wildlife has never been more important.

Join us

Bee-friendly in Wild About Gardens Week

Thursday 19th October 2017

White-tailed bumblebee. Credit Penny Frith

Can you imagine a garden without wild bees? The sights and sounds of bumblebees buzzing among pollen-laden anthers in open roses or sipping nectar from foxgloves are so evocative of a happy and friendly garden. Wild About Gardens Week from 23 to 29 October is a perfect time for people to plant up their gardens to give food sources for wild bees and bumblebees this winter and into next summer.

Historically, bumblebees have thrived in the countryside, but the use of pesticides on crops and the loss of fields, hedgerows and woodlands to development, means there are fewer flowers for bees and other pollinating insects to feed from, and fewer places for them to breed and hibernate.

Autumn is the best time to plant shrubs that flower at different times of the year, giving bees nectar when they need it. These include winter-flowering honeysuckle, mahonia and pieris for instant scent and colour in the coming months. Hibernating bumblebees will emerge on warm and sunny days, when they need a top-up of nectar from these flowers to give them energy and help them go back into a dormant state.

You can also plant bulbs such as daffodils and crocuses that give bees nectar in springtime, and perennial summer flowers like foxgloves, lavender and hollyhocks. Plant roses now, especially single-flowered varieties to attract the buzz-pollinating bumblebees.

Bee Creative in the garden. TV gardener Monty Don says:

“British gardeners can actively nurture and conserve the wild bee population. Gardens are always a rich source of food for wild bees and with a little care can be made even better for them without any trouble or loss of pleasure to the gardener.

“You do not need rare or tricky plants. In fact the opposite is true. Bees need pollen and the smaller flowers of unhybridised species are likely to be a much richer source than huge show blooms on plants that are the result of elaborate breeding.

“Any flower that is open and simple, such as members of the daisy family, or any that are set like a lollipop on a stick, such as scabious, and all members of the thistle family, are ideal for attracting honey bees, which have rather short tongues so need easy access. Bumblebees have longer tongues so are better adapted for plants that have more of a funnel shape, such as foxgloves.”

The wild bee-friendly gardening guide, Get your garden buzzing for bees, is free to download and contains lots of facts about the different species of wild bee, their lifecycles and how they nest, as well as practical steps gardeners can take to help them.

Take a look at our Bee-friendly pages

Wild About Gardens Week is a project run by the Royal Horticultural Society and the Wildlife Trusts.