Turning your garden in to bee heaven
This week on the blog we’ve got a guest post from Karoline Gore about how those of us lucky enough to have gardens can do our bit to help the bees (besides through buying Petalon bouquets, of course!)
Choosing The Best Blooms for Bees
Londoners can do more for bees than they might think, according to new research conducted in four UK cities. The responsibility doesn’t just fall to city folk, however; the findings showed that allotments and gardens all over the UK can prove highly suitable for bees, whatever their size. Bees are one of nature’s most important contributors, pollinating fruit and vegetables to produce a third of the food we eat, and pollinating flowers to create the beauty and abundance in which the UK's £2.2 billion flower industry blossoms. If you’re keen to play a part in supporting pollinators, you can make a real difference in your own back garden.
The Woodland Trust recommend choosing plants which don’t have double or multi petalled flowers such as peonies, as these are difficult for bees to access, and often don’t contain much pollen or nectar. Pollen provides bees with protein and oils, and nectar contains the sugar they need for energy. Plant a range of wildflowers such as Viper’s Bugloss, Honeysuckle or quintessentially British Bluebells instead, so that different bee species are able to reach them, no matter the size of their tongue.
A splash of colour
Research has found that bees see purple more clearly than any other colour, so flowers such as lavender and alliums will always be popular with them. All bright colours are welcome though, so choose the ones best-suited to your garden and your own preferences. The yellow and purple Horsemint, also known as bee balm, is another favourite with bees. Bees are most active from March to September, but it’s a good idea to choose plants with a variety of flowering periods, so that there is always something in bloom. The alarmingly named Stinking Hellebore, for example, flowers in January which gives early rising queen bees something to look forward to.
In addition to choosing flowers which bees love, there are other ways in which you can make your garden a haven for these little creatures. Why not leave out small shallow dishes of water for thirsty bees to enjoy, or set up an insect home for lone insects? You can also play a part in protecting bees and other wildlife by refusing to use pesticides.
Bees are industrious creatures who contribute a huge amount to our food chain and economy. It’s empowering to think that each of us can play a part in protecting them, without great expense or effort, simply by planting a few thoughtfully chosen flowers for them. As the next Petalon delivery bicycle sets off around London, it would be great to spot a riot of colour laid out for bees.