Protecting bees is not the preserve of professional or hobby apiculteurs – we can all do our bit by providing the nectar and pollen they need to thrive, as well as nesting habitats.
A good mix of flowering plants will support a range of species that fly at different times of the season, but pay attention to the following:
Local plants for local bees
Favour native plants over more exotic blooms.
Not only does research suggest local bees prefer these, but they are also usually well adapted to your growing conditions and can flourish with minimum attention.
Bees have a favourite colour
Purple is the colour bees see more clearly than any other, so plants such as lavender, alliums, buddleia and catmint are likely to be a hit.
Blue, white and yellow flowers will also be popular with bees, so do not rush to pull them up!
Pay attention to flower shape.
Prioritise plants with single over double flowers, which have so many petals the bees might struggle to reach the central part where the nectar and pollen are found.
Meanwhile, tubular-shaped flowers such as foxgloves, honeysuckle, penstemons and snapdragons are an important source of food for long-tongued bees, such as the garden bumblebee.
All year blooms
Grow flowers year-round if possible.
While bees are usually most active from March to September, some come out of hibernation early in mild weather.
Winter honeysuckle and winter clematis are good options in colder months.
Organic is best
Avoid toxic pesticides that can be harmful to bees as well as the bugs you were aiming to get rid of.
Choose bee-friendly organic fertilisers.