It's Wild About Gardens Week, a national celebration of the English garden, country or otherwise. Whether you have a window box or 100 acres, your patch is part of a network of 15 million gardens that criss-cross the UK. Put together, they cover an area seven times the size of the Isle of Wight! This year, we’re calling on you to ‘bee friendly’ in your garden and do your bit for our delightful and very important bees.
Without these busy little pollinators we would be unable to grow many of our favourite foods. The tomato salad would be a thing of the past, as would colourful wildflower meadows and the sheer joy of watching a bumblebee hop from flower to flower on a warm, summer afternoon.
Intensive land use has resulted in substantial of bees’ natural habitat, and harmful insecticides and herbicides have also been linked to a steep decline in bee numbers. For these reasons it is more important than ever that we step up for bees and do what we can to help them. Your garden has the potential to serve as an excellent habitat for wild bees, and the wonderful thing is that you needn’t wait until summer to take action - you can help bees all year round!
As the leaves fall, so do old bumblebee colonies; after a busy season serving their queen, they slip their mortal coil and die, leaving their newly-mated bumblebee sovereign to find a safe place to hibernate. Holes in the ground and compost heaps are popular hibernation spots, but if you want to provide an alternative, you could create a log pile. Log piles containing twigs, moss and leaves provide the perfect place for a bee to take shelter.
One of the best ways to help wild bees during the winter is to provide them with a range of foraging opportunities. Although most species are in hibernation at this time of year, some bees are still active – you can help them by planting winter-flowering plants such as crocus and hellebore.
After a long winter of hibernation, bees are starting to rear their heads and venture out of their hideaways in search of food. They promptly start work, gathering nectar and pollen to feed their emerging brood. One way you can help them is to retain old fruit trees, as they produce lots of life-giving nectar and pollen-rich blossom.
Bees need to drink too! Providing fresh water by submerging a few rocks in your birdbath so that bees can reach the water, or sinking a shallow pot of water into the ground will make a refreshing rest-stop for a thirsty bee.
For more information and ideas, download the ‘wild bee action kit’ at: