Bee Friendly : How we're helping the bees with our cottage garden

Unless you've been hidden away for the last few years, I'm sure you'll have seen that there is growing concern at the decline of bees worldwide.  The decline is thought to be from the loss of habitat, the change in climate, and the use of pesticides.

Concern is rising because bees help to pollinate plants and crops, transferring pollen from one plant to another via pollen clinging to its body.  Good pollination results in healthy crops with good fruits and viable seeds whilst bad pollination results in the opposite.  According to the Soil Association, there are around 70 crops in the UK that either depends on or benefits from bee pollination.

Bees are something that the girls and I talk about when we are in the garden. They are still a little edgy when they see one and are nervous about being stung but they are much better than they used to be.  They understand that they are doing important work and that we must leave them alone. 

With that in mind, I decided to do a little reading into how we could help them and flowers that are particularly bee friendly and I was pleased to see that I'm already on the right track! The Sussex Wildlife Trust suggests wildflowers and traditional cottage garden plants in gardens nationwide to encourage them.

Certain plants are more attractive to bees than others. For example, lavender is often covered in bees - in our garden, come summer, it is not unusual to see 10 or more bees on our lavender bush.  Flowers that are blue, purple or yellow are thought to be the most appealing whilst flowers that have flat or shallow blossoms (eg daisies or asters) will attract the largest variety of bee.  Tubular shaped flowers, like foxgloves, are favoured by long tailed beers.

When I first started gardening, I had a clear idea of how I wanted it to look. Like a cottage garden you would find out in a small village, filled with flowers and plants of different heights and colours, almost a little wild looking. When we moved into the house, the few plants that survived the neglected and severely overrun garden were three rose bushes and a large lavender bush. To that, I have added a few plants to return each year - daffodils, hyacinth, tulips, lupin, delphinium and gladioli. And each year I buy some bedding plants for the pots. 

Bee Friendly : How we're helping the bees with our cottage garden

This year, thanks to lockdown, the garden isn't as full as it has been on previous years but the plants we do have seem to be doing the trick and we are seeing lots of bees, particularly on the lavender.

Other ways that we can all help the bees include avoiding pesticides and keeping weeding to a minimum as weeds can be a good food source, particularly in spring.  I tell you, I am rocking this tip this year, as it has either been too hot or too wet to get out there and do it! Something else we can all do, is to leave a shallow bowl of water out to help them quench their thirst. 

The Sussex Wildlife Trust has some excellent information about bees including the different species and other ways we can help them.

How are you helping bees? Does their decline concern you or do you think of them as a pest? 

1 comment

  1. A few months ago I planted some wild flower seeds in my garden and they're in full bloom at the moment and they are doing a fantastic job of keeping the bee's happy.
    Your garden looks lovely! I like the tip about the weeds. hehehe. We have plenty of those x