Help our bees and make a bee friendly garden

I must admit that the wellbeing of bees (and other creepy crawlies to that matter) has been the last thing on my mind as I’ve gotten to know and love my little garden over the last few years. My main concern has simply been learning the basics of gardening and trying my best to keep it looking good, as it’s the first time I’ve had my ‘own’ little patch of grass.

It was in my garden that I had my ‘epiphany’ about becoming a florist during a particuarly bad spate at work, as I noticed a lily I had planted had come in to bloom and felt a sudden great sense of joy. I realised right at that moment that working with flowers could be the more actively creative line of work I had been dreaming about for a while.

It wasn’t until this spring though that the plight of our bees was brought to my attention by my Mum, who did a speech on it at her local NWR meeting. According to recent reports, British bee numbers have fallen drastically in recent years, affected by disease, chemicals and habitat loss. This is a major concern because bees are vital to so much of our life. As well as pollinating a large proportion of our food supply, they pollinate wildflowers too, so their decline could resort not only in a huge rise in costs of our food, but also a devastating loss of the food chain for many other insects, birds and mammals too.

Now I realise I may be a bit slow on the uptake here, as it’s been ‘news’ for a while, with The Guardian highlighting the ‘Bee Crisis’ in an article at the end of June and Friends of the Earth urging the public to make 2013 the ‘Year of the Bee’ and petition David Cameron for a Bee Action Plan.  But it’s never too late to take action, so here I just wanted to highlight the cause for anyone who may not be aware, and also provide some tips and links to help you create a bee friendly garden year-round.

No matter how small your garden, you can provide lots of bee friendly flowers throughout the year. This means rich in pollen and nectar, and apparently many ornamental plants that are commonly found in British gardens, such as pansies and begonias, are of no value to wildlife as they produce little of this. But there are hundreds of beautiful flowers that do offer these rewards, including foxgloves, lavender, geraniums, herbs and wild roses. I think the people who lived here before me must have been on to this too, as I already have alliums, bluebells, catmint, crocus, daffodils, dahlias, a hebe, irises, a pear tree, sage, verbena and viburnum, which are also on the list. Below you can see a little bee enjoying one of my alliums!

For a quick, useful search tool and A-Z of more bee friendly flowers, click on the Bumblee Conservation Trust’s link here:

June2 pics 001

More useful links:

Bumblebee Factsheet from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust

Make a bee friendly garden, by Saga

The plight of the bumblebee, by Saga