How to Create a Bee Friendly Garden

Here at Honeybuns Bakery HQ, we’re committed to running our rural business as sustainably as possible. Based on an old dairy farm, we have created a wild life haven on what used to be agriculturally grazed pasture. We’re especially interested in the conservation of our bees. Bees are vitally important for the pollination of flowers and crops; without them food would become scarce and we would all feel the negative effects. Numbers of bees are in decline and they face the risk of extinction. Sadly, two species have already become nationally extinct in the UK.

There are lots of simple things you can do in your garden to make it more enticing and welcoming to bees. These are perfect to do in the coming months as winter starts to thaw and Spring approaches. We already have a wealth of bee friendly plants growing here at the bakery, but we’re keen to keep improving their habitat by following these easy eco gardening steps:

Plant bee-friendly flowers

Simple and traditional plants are your best bet, as they contain lots of pollen and nectar and are easily accessible by the bees. Single flowers and not too many petals are best as bees can gain easy access to them. Lavender, clematis, honeysuckle, phacelia and herbs with flowers (such as borage, chives and rosemary) are all excellent for planting out.

What time of year should I plant these bee friendly flowers?

We tend to plant out once the frosts have finished. Potted plants get a good start when planted into warmer soil. April onwards is ideal – you want to avoid soggy or rock hard soil.

Ideas for plant containers

We’ve planted out rosemary, thyme, chives, cat mint and Alliums to create a vey popular all day Bee Buffet Bar. An old galvanised metal water trough was an ideal container as it fits into its farm setting.

Other planter ideas:

  • Old wheelbarrow
  • Old galvanised mop bucket
  • Recycled metal watering can
  • Old Belfast sinks

Try searching for these on Freecycle, Facebook marketplace and your local recycling centre.

Or just plant straight into the ground.

Have a constant supply of flowering plants

Make sure that you have a good mix of flowering plants, so as one ends, another begins. This will mean that the bees are provided with a supply of nectar all year round.

It’s also important to look after your plants; regular deadheading and good plant care will ensure that your flowers last for as long as possible, therefore lengthening the nectar supply for the bees.

Avoid pesticides

Using chemicals can harm bees, even if that’s not your intention. Try to opt for natural pest controls such as netting and mesh barriers.

To quote from an informative and well researched article by Daniela Gonzalez,

Pesticide poisoning in bees can cause immediate death or result in sickness and weakness in future generations that ultimately lead to a colony’s death. Commercial and industrial pesticides are both at fault here.

Make a bee house

Trends here in the UK for landscaped gardens, decking and parking places can be at the expense of living space for wildlife. Insects and mammals thrive when nature is allowed to run that little bit wilder and woollier.

Building bug and bee hotels are a great way of providing a place for bees to nest and to redress the balance of wild versus cultivated. These houses are simple and inexpensive to create and there are plenty of online tutorials that will give you some guidance and tips.

The Natural History Museum has some great and simple suggestions about how to make a bee hotel.

Have a bee-friendly water supply

A shallow dish, some small stones (or marbles) and clean water are all you need to make an eco friendly bee watering hole. It’s best positioned next to the plants that are most popular with your bees. An alternative could be to pop some pebbles into your bird bath. The pebbles allow the bees to perch safely whilst they drink.

Top tips

For more information on bumblebees and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, visit their website and their very useful information on Gardening for Bumblebees.

Where to buy your pollinator friendly flowers- we love Bee Happy Plants.

Drill holes in the bottom of your planters, and layer them with gravel and a mixture of topsoil and compost for optimal drainage.

We have our own bees here on the farm.

For more about our environmental endeavours, from Bees to Trees, check out our BeeGreen information.

If you have any questions, do get in touch via this blog in the comments section, or via facebook, email or telephone. 

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