Bee Creative and Make Your Garden Bee Friendly this Summer!

Tuesday 1st August 2017

Bumble bee - Alan PriceBumble bee - Alan Price

There’s a real buzz about wildlife gardening this summer as Surrey Wildlife Trust joins forces with The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) to encourage gardeners across the county to create havens for wild bees.

The Bee Creative in the Garden! campaign asked gardeners how they would most like to help bees. Planting foxgloves and letting lawns grow long were the stand-out favourites - but there are plenty of other ways to help make your patch more bee-friendly.

“We know that the British bee population has fallen by about a third in the last ten years,” said Dawn Fielding, the Trust’s Wildlife Gardening Officer. “Bees really need our help and we hope all gardeners will take action for wild bees this summer. If we all did a little bit, together we could make a big difference!”

Here are the Trust’s top tips on how to help bees in your garden this summer:
• Build a ‘bee hotel’ using hollow canes or a log with holes drilled into it. Bees will soon move in and lay eggs, before capping the holes off with mud, leaves or resin.
• Put out shallow dishes of water, filled with pebbles, to provide easy drinking places for thirsty bees - chiefly honey bees.
• Plant bee friendly flowers this August, such as single flowered dahlias, cosmos, globe thistle, heather, lavender and ivy.

Bee Creative In the Garden! is supported by horticultural expert Monty Don, who believes gardeners can play an active role in nurturing and conserving 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,” he said. 

“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.”

August is an excellent time to spot bees in the garden – there are around 250 species in the UK, including 24 species of bumblebee, around 225 species of solitary bee and just a single honeybee species. Here are some to look out for: 

• Bumblebee – all species active at this time of year and nests start producing males and new queens.
• Harebell Carpenter Bee – tiny black bee that collects pollen from garden species of bellflower.
• Common Furrow Bee - both males and females may be found on a wide variety of garden flowers in August.
• Leaf-cutter Bee – females cut distinctive circular shapes out of leaves, particularly roses, which are used to make a nest to lay eggs in.

Surrey Wildlife Trust is encouraging us all to make space for nature in our gardens with our annual Wildlife Garden Awards. Nearly 150 individuals, schools and businesses have entered the competition this year. The results will be announced in the autumn and the best gardens will win Squire’s Garden Centres vouchers!

Bee Creative in the Garden! is part of Wild About Gardens, which is a joint initiative between The Wildlife Trusts and the RHS to encourage wildlife in our gardens. For more tips on how you can help bees and other wildlife click here >>. Why not enter our ‘Bee Creative’ photo competition or download our FREE wild bee-friendly gardening guide ‘Get your garden buzzing for bees’. For more inspiration on summer flowering plants that are good for bees and lots of fantastic bee facts, see the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society website

Tagged with: Living Landscapes, Species, Wildlife gardening