Rebecca Jeffreys discovers the best plants and flowers to help create new habitats and attract bees.
How to save bees is a hot topic right now as we have come to understand the impact they have on our food chain. Without bees, our whole ecosystem would suffer so it’s important that we take responsibility in providing them with vital nutrients and habitats that will allow them to grow and reproduce. An estimated one third of the food we consume each day relies on pollination so if we want to continue eating the food we love, then we need to show these small yellow and black insects some love too!
(MORE: HOW TO SAVE THE BEES)
Sadly, bees are facing challenges ranging from climate change, to habitat loss and harmful pesticides, which mean a bad year could see a bee colony lose 15-20% of its population. So what can be done? While banning harmful pesticides, preserving wild habitats and restoring ecological agriculture are key, there’s lots you can do to help save the bees in your own garden too, such as providing plants that are essential habitats for bees in your area.
Here are the best bee-friendly plants for your garden:
The trusty lavender plant is an all-time favourite for bees as shown in a study conducted in 2013 by scientists at the University of Sussex. Highly-bred varieties of lavender such as grosso, hidcote giant and gros bleu were shown to be the most attractive to bumblebees.
2. Blue Borage
The same study found that honeybees were most attracted to blue borage flowers. The blue borage – also known as starflower – is a medicinal herb with edible leaves and flowers. The herb grows happily in the UK climate but its origins trace back to the Mediterranean.
Marjoram is a herb popular amongst honeybees and other pollinators. In fact, it was found that the herb was the best plant all-round.
4. Abelia (Bee Bush)
These delicate white flowers are prominent from spring through to fall and attract both honeybees and bumblebees.
5. Pussy Willow
Pussy Willow trees help feed queen bumblebees as they go on a hunt for new colonies in early spring. This tree helps bees through pollen-scarce months of March and April.
The crocus flower tends to appear during autumn, winter or spring but it’s the spring crocus that bees are attracted to. These flowers are easy to look after and will reappear year-after-year.
Lilac produces nectar, pollen and essential blossoms for bee pollinators. The flowers reproductive success results in a growing bee population. The flowers tends to blossom in the spring through to summer and entice bees with their brightly-coloured petals.
Foxgloves are said to be “fluorescent” at night, acting like a “landing strip” for bees as they can see in ultraviolet light. The foxglove is one of the best early summer bloomers for bees.
9. Monarda (Bee Balm)
The Monarda plant is regularly recommended for bees and other pollinators as it’s a reliable garden plant. The plant is also edible and useful to help skin irritation.
In order to attract bees, chives need to flower. Chives are easy to grow and easy to maintain, providing a beautiful herb to use in your kitchen and helping to save bees at the same time.
So there you have it, 10 of the best plants and flowers to attract bees to your garden and provide a vital habitat for these amazing creatures.