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World Bee Day 2022: The bee-friendly plants you can grow to attract them as population numbers continue to decline



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The UK's bee populations are in decline.

The Royal Horticultural Society says there is growing evidence that bees and other pollinators are less healthy and abundant than they have been and if more is not done to protect them, their fizzling numbers will have serious implications for food production, biodiversity and ornamental gardens.

Each year wildlife campaigners use the buzz of World Bee Day to showcase the crucial role the insects play on planet Earth and encourage us to do more to help them. And one of the most successful ways this can be done is by creating a garden or small corner of green space that bees and other insects will be attracted to.

A bumblebee covered with pollen grains
A bumblebee covered with pollen grains

This could include having regular sources of nectar the bees can feed on all year round by choosing plants, or flowers to grow that will bloom throughout the year rather than providing the bees with one high feast in the middle of summer.

So if you're ready to make a haven for wildlife in your home - and you don't need to have a garden space to create a space that's bee-friendly - then the plant experts at Hopes Grove Nurseries, in Kent, have some suggestions:

A close-up of some pink escallonia flowers. Photo credit: iStock.
A close-up of some pink escallonia flowers. Photo credit: iStock.

1. Escallonia

An ideal candidate for a bee garden, these are great nectar plants when in flower. Either as a hedge or planted in a garden border, the bright open flowers are like magnets to honeybees and bumbleebees and even solitary bees that can all enjoy the pollen.

Moths and butterflies are also big fans which make them an ideal choice if you want to do more to encourage insect populations to your garden.

Pyracantha crenatoserrata. Photo iStock/Jiamiao Lin.
Pyracantha crenatoserrata. Photo iStock/Jiamiao Lin.

2. Pyracantha

Referred to as Firethorn, it can be grown in containers or in the ground and with plenty of thorns to deal with it can serve as a suitable hedge too.

But when the berries arrive later on in the season it becomes a huge feeding ground for birds, bees and butterflies who will flock to the colour, flower and its pollen.

Bumblebees in lavender. Image: National Trust/ David Levenson.
Bumblebees in lavender. Image: National Trust/ David Levenson.

3. Lavender

Described as 'one of the very best plants' if you want to attract bees and butterflies you can plant a variety of types for a long flowering season to keep the bees coming. It is the purple colour of the lavendar flower that attracts the bees as purple tells the creatures the flowers are rich in pollen.

Bees foraging in both spring and summer will appreciate an abundance of lavender in your garden who love to feed on the garden flowers.

Buckthorn. Image: iStock/ Whiteway.
Buckthorn. Image: iStock/ Whiteway.

4. Buckthorn

Bees love to feed off the buckthorn which is fast growing and very versatile. Because it flowers in May and can last until September, even potentially October in a warmer autumn, the shrubs/small tree is a popular choice for pollinators.

While both the Alder Buckthorn and common Buckthorn are also the food plants for the caterpillars of the Brimstone butterfly too.

The buckthorn is relatively easy to grow and if you can plant it within a mixed native hedge and add some evergreens experts say they will also give bees somewhere to hibernate come the cooler months.

Red currant flowers. Photo credit: iStock/mtreasure.
Red currant flowers. Photo credit: iStock/mtreasure.

5. Flowering Currant

Described as an 'excellent early season nectar source' for solitary and bumblebees it is also a popular hangout spot for butterflies too. The clusters of small, brightly coloured scented flowers are rich in nectar which insects will make a bee-line for in spring. The plants can be planted in most soil types and tend to do well even without a lot of maintenance.



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