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Due to variations in climate and conditions, flowering times may differ from region to region, and this may also affect foraging, as well as the distribution of different bee species. For example, Italian strains of honey bees will forage on crocus flowers, but in very cool weather, may be deterred from foraging in the first place. Bumblebees, on the other hand, with their furry coats, can often be found foraging on cooler days. In fact, bumblebees are increasingly being seen to forage during the cool winter months, meaning that late and very early flowering plants are vital for bumblebees. Mahonia Crocus Daffodil Genista Dicentra Pulmonaria (Lungwort) Gorse (Ulex) Rosemary (Rosemarinus) Flowering Currant (Ribes) Primrose (Primula vulgaris) Bluebell (Choose native varieties) Cowslip (Choose native varieties) Snakeshead (Fritillaria meleagris) Winter Honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima, Lonicera purpusii) Barberry (Berberis) (Lamium) Bugle (Ajuga) Ground Ivy Snowdrops (Galanthes) single flowered varieties Winter Heathers (Erica carnea)


During the Spring and Summer, all types of bees (and other pollinating insects) are rearing their broods. A typical honey bee colony may consist of around 50,000 to 60,000 workers, as well as larvae to feed. Bumblebee colonies may be fragile - fewer than half survive, and solitary bees are in need of undisturbed nesting sites, as food is gathered for storing in egg cells to feed newly developing larvae. Plenty of bee friendly plants are therefore vital during the Spring and summer to ensure survival of the colony. Forget-me-not (Myosotis)- pictured above Foxglove (Digitalis) Bistort Cranes-bill (Geranium) Poppy (Papaver) Chives Bugle (Ajuga) Lesser Celandine (Ranunculus acris) Borage officinalis Crocus Comfrey (Malus) Honey Suckle (Lonicera) Passion Flower (Passiflora) Muscari Thyme Sweetpea (Lathyrus) Campanula Lupin (Lupinus) Rosa rugosa Sea Holly (Eryngium) Columbine (Aquilegia) Penstemon Salvia Hebe Allium


During the late summer and autumn, these plants will continue to feed late developing broods, as well as those bees that have already developed into working adults. Note that himalayan balsam (pictured left) is a controversial plant in the UK, where it is not native, however, pollinators adore it for the ample nectar it provides. It is thought that it may be invasive, but please see my page about native versus non native plants for further information. On the other hand, Scorpion Weed is also not native to the UK, but many do enjoy growing it in the garden. It also attracts bees and other pollinators. I would definitely encourage you to grow cornflowers, solidago, lavender and scabious in your garden. They are great bee attracting plants! Scorpion Weed (Phacelia tanacetifolia) Sedum Golden Rod (Solidago) Cornflower Red Hot Poker (Knifophia) Veronica Salvia Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) Salvia Verbascum Scabious Sunflower Lavender Watermint Snapdragon (Antirrhinum) Nepeta (Catmint) Bugle (Ajuga) Bergenia Hellebores Hollyhock Bergamot Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens)


Ivy is loathed by some, but it is one of the few plants for bees that aid survival of the late foragers. The pollination of ivy then allows berries to develop, thus feeding a number of birds over the winter months, as well as providing excellent shelter. Research has shown that trees with ivy growing up them accomodate more wildlife than those without. Instead of assuming that all ivy must be cut away, it is better to be pragmatic about it. Investigate first whether it is really causing any damage. Most healthy trees can withstand at least some ivy growth before being cut back. The wildlife will appreciate it! Ivy Mint (Mentha) Oregano (Origanum) Viburnum Common Heather (Calluna vulgaris)

Drought Plants for Bees

Believe it or not, there are many excellent drought plants out there, that are highly attractive to pollinators. Initially, many people who find themselves with a dry or drought garden, may believe their options will be limited and their gardens will be dull. However, drought landscapes and gardens do not have to be boring they can be truly inspiring and striking like this picture above! By combining different textures, forms and colours, the effect created can be visually stunning. Herbs, wildflowers and succulents especially, provide great options for gardeners wanting to attract bees to dry areas.

Succulents Succulents, such as sedums are great drought resistant plants. They are able to store water in their fleshy leaves and stems. Their compact heads ooze nectar during the late summer, and are loved by bees and other pollinating insects.

Herbs Many herbs can tolerate dry conditions. Try: Lavender lavender thrives in gritty, dry soils, and will buzz with bees in the summer. Origanum, (Marjoram) the culinary oregano can be enjoyed by both you and the bees! Sage both culinary and wild sages are not only good drought plants, they are also good bee plants too. Thyme low-growing thyme can also be grown on a green roof although it may then be difficult for you to harvest some of it! Rosemary will provide valuable food for bees early in the year when other foraging opportunities are scarce.

Wildflowers Many wildflowers are well adapted to tolerate dry conditions, and most prefer nutrient-low soils. Excellent drought plants that attract bees and other pollinators include: Poppies Birds foot trefoil Cornflower Candy tuft Toadflax Thistles

Bugle (Ajuga) Deadnettle Selfheal Teasels Here is a website that features more drought-smart plants for bees, and there is also information about creating a nectar corridor in a dry area for bees and other pollinators.

Other drought tolerant plants to attract bees Achillea millefolium Phacelia - Scorpion weed Ceanothus repens Eryngium - Sea Holly Helianthemum - the rock rose Verbascum Drought resistant ground cover and lawns One of the easiest ways to deal with a lawn in drought conditions, is to allow clover to flourish. It will keep your lawn looking green, and bees love it! Later, after mowing, the clover makes an excellent nutritious compost for other plants. Alternatively, again, why not cover your lawn area with low growing thyme plants?

Shade Garden Plants for Bees

A shade garden can provide many opportunities for wildlife, including bees, particularly if the shade is caused by hedgerows, or trees. That said, I have a number of shady spots in my garden, some of which are also quite dry. In the past, I thought that shade gardens were automatically problem gardens, and that nothing would grow in them. However I now believe that this is not necessarily true.

Nowadays, I tend to look to nature for evidence. A few years ago, I asked myself, Is it true, that plants wont grow in the shade?. When I contemplated the rich diversity of plant life in forests and woodlands, I knew this couldnt be the case. And of course, there are many shade tolerant plants which are also valuable to wildlife.

So, here are my shade gardening ideas for attracting bees especially:

1. Have you ever noticed bumblebees flying up against the windows of your house, or hovering around dark holes in the lawn? Generally, bumblebees prefer to make their nests in shady areas. Leave a pile of logs in a secure spot, or if you have purchased a bumblebee house, find a sheltered area in the shade, away from predators, and place it there. Then leave it undisturbed. Ensure you provide suitable nest material, such as hamster bedding. If you are very lucky, in the first year, the nest will be occupied by a mouse! This will make a shop-bought bumblebee nest far more desirable for use in following years! Very often, these houses may not be occupied at all for a number of years - if at all!

2. Some excellent bee plants are happy in the shade but remember to plant them in swathes. Group foxgloves together. Plant crocuses and daffodils in groups too, as well as bluebells. A bluebell wood (above) is great inspiration. Despite the shade of the trees, bees will visit masses of bluebells for the nectar reward. 3. Some bedding plants with a spreading habit can also be used. Campanula and Common Dog Violet (Viola riviniana) are examples. They have a spreading habit and are easy to maintain. 4. Other shade plants that attract bees include incude:

hostas bergenia mahonia viburnum opulus rhododendron Crane's Bill (Geranium sanguineum var. striatum). The lungworts are fantastic plants for bees. Try Lungwort 'Lewis Palmer' (Pulmonaria 'Lewis Palmer'). I also have a single petalled fuchsia that produces ample flowers year after year. To some extent, shade gardening is about experimentation. You can only try it and see!

Clay Soil Plants for Bees

Clay soil can be very challenging. I once spent a couple of years and a small fortune on conditioners and composts, and hours on end trying to break it up in order to improve it in a garden I owned some years ago. However, the truth of the matter was that I had little time for gardening back then, and also very limited knowledge. At that time, it would have been far better had I simply stuck with plants that are happy in wet conditions. I could have saved myself quite a bit of money, and hours of work. Of course, if you have the time, energy, money and preferably all of these, there are actions you can take to resolve the issue, even going as far as installing drainage systems. Lets suppose for now that you might like to consider more low cost routes. If this is the case, here are some clay soil plants that attract bees and other pollinators. You may be surprised at how many plants will tolerate it. Why not just try it? On the other hand, if you have exceedingly heavy clay soil, you may need to take action to improve it, in order that anything will grow. For example, you may wish to try raised beds. Examples of good clay soil plants that attract bees, include: Sea holly (eryngium) Bergenia Monarda fistulosa (Wild Bee Balm) Geranium Helleborus Hosta Kniphofia Sedum spectabile Solidago (Golden Rod) Heliopsis helianthoides (Ox Eye daisy) Lonicera japonica, L. periclymenum (Honeysuckle)

Shrubs and Trees for Clay Soil Trees especially, can be very useful, as they can help to remove water. Consider these options: Hypericum calycinum (great for pollen) Spiraea Malus (crab apple) Berberis Buddleja (loved by butterflies too) Cotoneaster Fuchsia

Mahonia (excellent early source of food for bees) Cotoneaster horizontalis, C. lacteus

Gardening in these conditions is hard work - I know! However, before you spend a great deal of money on resolving the issue, trialling a few of these plants may be a good idea. You could also try this website which has further tips for dealing with clay soil.

Bee Garden Basics

Here are my top tips for creating a bee garden. There are links within this page to further information such as lists of great bee plants, trees for bees, the role of native garden plants and wildflowers (please note, clicking these links opens a new window in each case). Read on!

Provide Year-round Pollen & Nectar Rich Plants Good bee plants provide excellent sources of nectar or pollen and even better if they provide both. For this reason, some highly cultivated ornamental plants are not necessarily very useful for bees, primarily because they contain little nectar or pollen. Impatiens (Bizzy Lizzie), very garish, highly cultivated petunias and begonias, and even hydrangea offer little value. Instead, go for traditional bedding plants such as campanulas, aubretia, bluebells, primroses and crocuses, lavenders, and shrubs such as ceanothus. Ensure you have plants flowering late into the season as well as early flowering varieties loved by bees and other wildlife. Check out this calendarised list of plants for bees, and my general introduction page about bee plants. Plant in Groups Ideally, when you are creating a bee garden, you should position your bee plants in groups. Swathes of butterfly and bee attracting plants are easier for our little pollinators to locate. Importantly, it also conserves vital energy stores, meaning more nectar and pollen can be returned to the colony.

Include Wildflowers A bee garden should ideally include at least a few wildflowers in the border. Here is a list of wildflowers for bees. Or if you have space, then why not.....

Create a Wildflower Meadow You may be able to create this as a small patch, but if you have the space, why not create a wildflower meadow?

How About a Flowering Lawn? If you cannot create a meadow from scratch in your garden, including taller meadow flowers, a good compromise is to allow clover to flourish, and smaller wild flowers to pop up here and there, such as birds foot trefoil, self heal and vetches in patches. These plants are so pretty, and are excellent plants for bees. Clover is excellent on lawns too, because remains green even during very dry periods. It is also good for the soil, and later in the year, when mown, makes a good addition to the compost. An alternative way of creating a flowering lawn is to fill it with a ground covering herb, such as thyme, which is an excellent bee plant.

Plant a Wildlife Hedgerow A hedgerow is an excellent addition to any bee garden. A flowering hedgerow especially, is a boon to all types of bees (honey bees, solitary bees, bumblebees), pollinators and other wildlife. Birds may nest in them, bees, butterflies and other insects may enjoy the nectar from the flowers, whilst birds and small mammals may benefit from berries. Ideally, a bumblebee may find an abandoned rodent hole at the base of the fence this is a favourite nest site for many types of bumblebees. Take a look at my list of trees, shrubs and hedgerow plants to attract bees. Create a Site for a Bees Nest Whether or not you are keeping bees, even so, you can create nesting sites for wild bee species. Bee nests are welcomed by gardeners who know they now have some of natures little helpers to pollinate the plants. Creating a bumblebee nest box can be difficult, although it is possible to do. Often the best course of action is simply to provide ideal surroundings and areas in which they might possibly create a nest. It is significantly easier to create a solitary bee house, and this can be achieved at a very small cost with a few hollow canes. Water and Mud! Bees need water for drinking whilst some bees, such as mason bees, use mud for constructing their nests. Create a Cottage Garden A cottage garden is usually a good bee garden. Cottage garden plants never go out of fashion. Humans love them, and bees love them too, and better still, a typical cottage garden border is full of great plants that attract butterflies and bees. In fact, many of the best plants for bees can be found in traditional cottage garden borders, and its possible to place a few taller wild flower specimens in the border too, such as cornflower, knapweed (actually a beautiful plant), teasels and foxgloves.

Make Space for Herbs Many herbs are excellent bee plants, and of course, are enjoyed by humans. Rosemary provides a useful source of nectar during the winter, borage oozes nectar in the summer. Marjoram, chives, lemon balm and so many herbs are great plants for bees and butterflies do take a look at my section about herb plants for bees.

Inspire the Kids! Creating a bee garden is a great project for kids to get involved in. There are many wonderful plants and activities that are inspiring for children. Children love sunflowers, as do bees and birds. And there is so much more that can be done! Inspiring children in the early years to create a garden even if its just a small patch can encourage them to take interest in, and learn about the natural world. I have never forgotten that my love of bees and other wildlife, began when I was a child, spending many happy hours in the garden with my father.

Grow your own organic fruit and vegetables! Yes, a bee garden can include home grown produce too, so why not help the bees, and put food on your plate at the same time? Many fruit and vegetable plants attract bees, whilst cross pollination by bees increases crop yield. Everyone wins! Take a look at my page about beefriendly fruit and vegetables. Install a Green Roof Green roofs can be added to homes, garages, but even sheds. They can be filled with bee attracting plants, from wildflowers to succulents, especially sedums.

Include Different Flower Shapes Different bees are attracted to different flowers, so a good bee garden should include a variety. Some bees can manage plants with tubular florets, such as foxgloves, whilst others prefer more open varieties. Remember to include a range of flowering plants with different shaped florets.

Native Garden Plants vs Non-native Garden Plants I am often asked whether a bee garden should consist only of native garden plants. There is no doubt that native garden plants are very beneficial to the indigenous wildlife of a country. However, there are many introduced plants that are highly beneficial to bees and butterflies too, as well as other pollinators. For example, buddleia is loved by bees, hoverflies and butterflies alike, and is very easy to grow in the garden.

Think twice about using pesticides

Take into account that if a bumblebee queen perishes before rearing new queens and males at the end of the season, a whole future generation of bumblebees is lost. With 3 extinctions and drastic declines already, we cannot afford to lose more of our bumblebees. Butterflies are suffering too. Please read my pages on pesticides and pesticide studies before using them, especially neonicotinoids. Neonicotinoids are in many common household garden pesticides, and the Soil Association and Buglife (invertebrate conservation) are campaigning against this relatively new pesticide group. Remember, we used to manage before these were introduced onto the market do we need them now?

Free Plants for Bees

Why free plants? In these difficult economic times, many people are on a tight budget, but would still like to include some great bee plants in their gardens.

For this reason, I decided to compile a list of tips for getting hold of free plants! Creating a bee garden complete with bee attracting plants does not have to be expensive. Generations before us have managed to grow abundant gardens on very limited budgets. We can do the same! Perhaps we've grown very used to 'the quick, convenient route' to everything, but increasingly, many of us are interested in sustainability and the joys of sharing and recycling. I think these feelings are beginning to affect the way we garden too!

Below are my tips:

Learn how to take cuttings. Many bee friendly plants will propagate easily from cuttings. Try out single-petalled fuchsias, hebes, mints, penstemons and rosemary. Its also possible to get free lavender plants by taking cuttings, although they can be more difficult to establish. They require well-drained, gritty soil. Use the new growth. Check out my links to lists of best bee plants.

Divide clumps and swap them with neighbours! Many clumps of bedding plants can easily be divided up, with no harm to the plant whatsoever. Bedding campanulas are an excellent example I literally have about 6 different clumps of it around my garden. Aubretias are also a beautiful bedding plant that attracts bees, and responds well to being divided. Swap clumps with friends and relatives to get access to new varieties they will probably appreciate receiving free garden plants too!

Collect seeds - it's the ideal way to get free plants for next year! This sounds obvious, but its amazing how many people ignore this opportunity. If you dont wish to plant them in your own garden, swap them with some-one else, or plant them into pots, and sell them at a car boot sale (raising further income for more garden plants), or swap them at that stage.

Divide and swap bulbs! Even if you are growing daffodils or crocuses, dont assume that because they are common, no-one will want them. Divide up your bulbs, and swap them for other plants with friends and relatives. Failing that, again, sell them at the local bazaar, and use the money to purchase more plants!

Phone your local council, or ask a local conservation organisation whether they have any native trees, hedgerows or shrubs for free. Many local councils will provide one or two free trees or shrubs, as part of their scheme to increase biodiversity in the region. Check that the specimen you select is appropriate, in terms of soil and size at full growth! See this list of trees and shrubs for bees.

Search the net for free packets of wildflower seeds. A number of organisations are giving away packets of wildflower seeds in order to help save the bees. Ensure the seeds are native to your country, and check to see if they are good for bees and other pollinators by checking my wildflower list.

Join a gardening group, because youll probably meet up with a number of members who are happy to swap plants with you.

Nearly Free Plants! Sometimes, its possible to pick up garden plants that are not quite free, but are excellent value for money. 1. Some gardening magazines include offers that enable you to purchase good plants, merely for the price of postage. 2. You may also come across special offers in gardening catalogues, whereby you may receive free plants with any order. 3. Attend car boot sales and local bazaars they often have plant stalls, enabling you to pick up some good bargains. I tend to check whether or not the seller has used pesticides, or products containing them, such as compost containing vine weevil killer.

Herb Planting For Bees

Herb planting for bees is rewarding - they help pollinators and they have many uses for humans too: cooking, medicinal, fragrance, not to mention their beauty and verstility in the garden. Many herbs are among the best plants for bees, and herb planting is also very much in fashion. You may or may not have space for a herb garden, but even a few herb plants in the border will help bees and other pollinators. A container herb garden, or a window herb garden may be an option. You could even give herbs as a gift! Home-made gifts such as these are increasingly appreciated - and not only by gardeners and those who enjoy cooking. People genuinely appreciate the effort that goes into making a gift, and home made herb planters are simple to put together.


Here is my list of ideal herbs for bees! Borage I have read that borage refills with nectar every 2 minutes! This is exceptionally fast. No wonder all kinds of bees love it! Catmint (Nepeta) Note, cats love it too!) Chives Allow them to flower. You can still clip a few of the stalks for cooking. Comfrey Another excellent flower for bees refills with nectar approximately every 45 minutes. Hyssop Attracts bees and butterflies. Lavender Choose different varieties for a prolonged season. Sage The sage family of plants are wonderful for bees and other pollinators. Thyme Marjoram/Origanum

Thyme can also be used to create a small patch of lawn. The fragrance and look are beautiful. Butterflies like thymes too. Mints (Mentha) Bees love the flowers, but I have read that some beekeepers apply mint oil diluted with water to their beehives to deter wax moth. I am aiming to place a pot of mint close to a bumblebee nest when I next find one, to see if it helps bumblebees too. Lemon Balm In the past, beekeepers would rub a handful of lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) inside the hive after hiving a new swarm, in order to help the swarm settle and to encourage them not to leave the hive. Rubbing hands with the leaves is also claimed to help prevent bee stings! Fennel Also popular with seed-eating birds and hoverflies. Angelica Pretty herb loved by a variety of bees and hoverflies. Wild Bergamot Long tongued bees especially, enjoy this pretty herb. Woundworts Pretty flowers loved by bees. Betony Another great bee and butterfly plant. Myrtle Gorgeous shrub loved by bees and other insects. Rosemary Excellent early food source for bees. I came across an excellent website about medicinal herbs, with a very nice section on growing herbs. (Clicking the link opens a new window).

Wildflowers and Natives to Attract Bees and Pollinators

Planting wildflowers and natives will not only attract bees and butterflies, but also other pollinators and wildlife. Native plants and wildflowers are especially adapted to the climate and conditions of a country, and suit the indigenous wildlife, without upsetting the balance of nature. Wildflowers and native plants are therefore some of the best plants for bees, and ideally, every bee garden should have at least a few of the wildflower plants on these lists. Many a native wildflower landscape has been lost due to farming practices and building development. In the UK, for example, only 2% of wildflower meadows remain. We have become obsessed with tidying up, but allowing a few weeds and wildflowers to flourish, or creating a small wildflower habitat in your border could help address this imbalance if only on a small scale.

You may feel that your efforts will not count, but ordinary people as well as councils, are becoming more aware of the need to make space for wildlife. Your efforts could help enhance a nectar corridor, or provide a valuable feeding station, however small, for wildlife. Here is a list of great wildflower plants that attract butterflies and bees:


Red Campion (pictured left) Birds Foot Trefoil (long season) Bugle (Ajuga) Comfrey Selfheal Poppy Cowslip Vetches Dandelion Dead-nettle (red and white Foxglove Yellow Rattle Cats ear Angelica Red Bartsia Ground Ivy Woundwort Betony


Clovers (red & white) Birds Foot Trefoil Bramble Comfrey Burdock Teasels

Knapweed Vetches Cornflower Thistles Field Scabious Vipers Bugloss Cats ear Angelica Red Bartsia Sainfoin


Ivy Devils bit scabious

Flower Bulbs For Bees

I have several types of flower bulbs for bees in my garden, from winter flowering crocus, snowdrops and daffodils, to Spring muscari, hyacinth, iris and bluebell. During the summer, up come the alliums and crocosmia. If youd like to know which bulbs to plant for bees, read on, as well as tips for buying. Please note, if you are potting bulbs in pots, think twice about using compost laced with vine weevil killer neonicotinoid pesticides (such as Imidacloprid, Acetimacloprid,Thiacloprid, Thiamethoxam, Dinotefuran and Nitenpyram). These chemicals are under suspicion for killing bees

Bulbs are quite versatile. Some are great in lawns, such as daffodils, some species of short

stemmed fritillaria, and of course, crocus. There are flower bulbs that will grow quite well in areas that we might call problem places in the garden. If you have a shade garden, (for example, a shady spot beneath the trees) wood anemone, snowdrop, cyclamen, blue bell and winter aconite are treasures for any gardener with these conditions. On the other hand, I have found crocosmia to be very handy in a dry, sunny drought spot. I love the large, showy summer flowering bulbs too, such as the tall alliums and agapanthus that look beautiful in the border, and tend to be quite long flowering. Its not unusual to see large allium heads with several bumblebees feeding on them at once, and honey bees eagerly drinking nectar from agapanthus. So in summary, I recommend flower bulbs for bees, because they are generally very easy to grow, and most people can accommodate at least some flower bulbs liked by bees whether they have a large bee garden, or just a pot of hyacinths and crocus by the front door. Bulbs are often good value too. I love the fact that you can divide up your muscari, snowdrops and crocosmias, so that you end up with free plants you can swap with others or transplant elsewhere in your garden.In summary, here is a list of easy to grow flower bulbs for bees:

Winter Flower Bulbs For Bees: Glory of the snow (Chionodoxa spp.) Snowdrop Winter Aconite

Spring Corms And Bulbs For Bees: Bluebells Crocus Cyclamen coum (but can flower form January) Daffodil Fritillaria Hyacinth Iris Muscari Siberian squill (Scilla siberica) Wood Anemone (anemone nemorosa)

Summer Corms And Bulbs For Bees: Agapanthus Allium

Crocosmia Foxtail Lily Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia) Ornithogalum (Star Of Bethlehem)

Buying Flower Bulbs For Bees These days, pesticides may be used in the cultivation of bulbs and plants by the horticulture industry. Neonicotinoids are systemic pesticides, and are a subject of much controversy read more about this on the page honey bee deaths and pesticides. These pesticides persist in soil, and are not easily degraded. In order to make doubly sure I avoid any possibility or risk that I will unwittingly poison the bees or pollute my garden soil with any pesticide contaminating my flower bulbs, (or indeed other plants), I take the following precautions: I either 1. Buy organic, or 2. Swap with friends and relatives with similar views, or 3. Buy them from a local farmers' market, where we are fortunate to have a plant stall owned by a hobby gardener I trust, or 4. Purchase from a local nursery I trust.

This website has more lists of bee plants, including herbs, garden plants, trees, shrubs, wild flowers and even fruit and veg, so do take a look to learn more. Bees are also excellent pollinators. Learn more about plant pollination.

Lawns For Bees

Lawns can provide excellent opportunities for bees. Depending on your circumstances, this could range from allowing a few wildflowers to thrive in a small patch, or converting a large grassed area to meadow. On the other hand, maybe the idea of long grasses or tall flowers is not appealing.

Perhaps you'd like to select a few low-growing specimens to help the bees, or maybe you'd rather not include wildflowers in your lawn at all. Here are a few ideas to set you on your way in creating a patch that is great for bees and other wildlife:

Include Bulbs Many flower bulbs provide excellent nectar and pollen sources for bees, including during winter and spring. Why not include crocuses in your lawn? For a natural effect, simply scatter them onto the ground and plant them where they fall. Alternatively, do the same with daffodils and bluebells beneath a tree. Remember to choose traditional rather than doublepetalled varieties. Snake's head fritillary can also look very pretty, whilst snowdrops are always a favourite. I recommend you buy bulbs from an organic supplier. Personally, I have become increasingly concerned about the amount of neonicotinoid pesticides used in flower bulb cultivation - and indeed, in horticulture generally. Personally, I prefer to buy organic, or take cuttings from sources I trust. Alternatively, you could develop a relationship with a nursery near you, and ask them from where they source their plants, bulbs and seeds. Read more about flower bulbs for bees, and get further information about bulbs suitable for lawns and shade.

Wildflower Meadow Even small spaces can accommodate many wildflowers , and this could attract different types of bees and butterflies, by providing much needed pollen and nectar.

So how can it be achieved? There are several methods: The Leave it and See Approach My husband and I tried this last year, and it worked a treat. We learned that our house had been built on a wildflower meadow about 16 years ago, and I had already noticed a few different wildflowers had popped up from the lawn. These were probably dormant seeds from years gone by. To achieve this approach is simple: - Do not use any fertilizers or treatments on your lawn. Do not add anything that could increase the nutrient value of the soil. Most wildflowers thrive better in nutrient rich soil. Also, do not use any pesticides / insecticides. - Mow only twice in the year we mowed early in the spring, then again late autumn. If you wish you can always mow a path through the lawn. Mown paths can look quite attractive.

Depending on your lawn, getting a good variety of wildflowers may take time. However, do not be disappointed if you see lots of clover. Clover is one of the best plants for bees, and has the added advantage of keeping your lawn looking green even during dry spells. Other wonderful plants to see peeping through your lawn include self heal, birds foot trefoil, cowslips and vetches. Dandelions are controversial, but bees and other pollinators love them. You can always remove the heads before seeds disperse.

Planting Approach You could also purchase a few wildflowers as plants, and add them at various places to your lawn. Even better, sow seeds yourself in pots, and ensure you use no chemicals. This approach will be helpful : - for plants that may otherwise be difficult to establish, - to simply reduce the waiting time for your wildflowers to become established, - to have more control over the wildflowers appearing in your lawn. Perhaps youd prefer to see a few low-growing plants, as mentioned above.

Create a Wildflower Meadow from Scratch For this approach, remove the top layer of turf. Sow a wildflower seed mix in Spring or Autumn, and cover with a fine tilth. Hopefully, your seed mix will contain annuals that will soon give you glorious colour. In a year or two, the perennial flowers should show up.

If you have high nutrient soil, you may struggle to establish your wildflowers. One approach to solving this issue is to use herbicides (weedkillers), however I do NOT recommend this. Why? There is great debate and controversy around the impact of herbicides on wildlife, with the agrochems industry defending their position (as with neonicotinoid pesticides), and government institutions doing little about it and certainly not demanding independent evidence prior to marketing authorization has been granted. But at the very least, remember wildflowers are weeds in the eyes of the agrochemical industry. Instead, sow Yellow Rattle with your wildflower seeds or sow it first. This will parasitize the grasses that would otherwise take over your wildflowers, and bees and other insects love this wildflower. Yellow Rattle is excellent for helping to create more suitable growing conditions for wildflowers preferring nutrient-poor soils. Along with the Yellow Rattle, you could try these wildflowers (they will benefit not only bees, but also other pollinating insects), as they are better able to compete with rough grass: Field Scabious Teasel Meadow Cranesbill Cowslip Selfheal Greater & Lesser Knapweed Red Campion Betony Meadow Buttercup Ox Eye Daisy Musk Mallow

Which Other Wildflowers Could You Include? Depending on your conditions, consider these species: Dappled Shade: Primrose Greater Stitchwort Ground Ivy Bugle Lesser Celandine Red Campion Foxglove Blue bells Wood Anemone Damp Soils Devils Bit Scabious

Ragged Robin Marsh Woundwort Water Mint Water Avens King Cups Purple Loosestrife Meadowsweet Chalk Soil Cowslip Yellow Rattle Small Scabious Cornflower Teasel Knapweeds Field Scabious Self heal Kidney Vetch Ox Eye Daisy Poppy Rich Soil If you do have rich soil, try these they are annuals, but should self seed each year, or collect them yourself and re-sow: Corn Poppy Corncockle Cornflower Corn Marigold Corn Chamomile Dont Want Wildflowers or Are You in a Drought Area? If you have very dry soil or if you would prefer a more cultivated look or even something a little unusual, then why not consider fragrant Thyme? Thyme is an excellent herb for bees, and low growing varieties can be used. Check out this link about growing a thyme lawn.

Plants to Attract Bees: Shrubs, Hedgerows, and Trees

Hedgerows, Shrubs and Trees for Bees If you are wanting to include plants to attract bees in your garden, dont forget about trees, shrubs and hedgerows. Of course, if you do not have space for these, see my links to other lists of great plants for bees at the bottom of this list. Among the links youll find garden plants, wildflowers, herbs and even fruit and vegetables! There are also links to further advice. Why are trees, shrubs, and hedgerows excellent bee plants? Trees, hedgerows and shrubs may provide nesting opportunities for bees, which may make their nests in abandoned rodent holes found at the base of the plant. They also provide excellent foraging potential. Due to their size, and the dense presentation of pollen and nectar (e.g. a decent sized shrub may be covered in flowers), foraging for the bees is efficient, requiring less energy to fly about in search of further sources of nectar, at least for a while. Of course, good hedgerows, trees and shrubs for bees also provide excellent cover and food for other wildlife such as birds and small mammals, which will provide entertainment in the garden, beautiful sounds, and a bit of natural garden pest control.

TREES, SHRUBS AND HEDGEROWS: GREAT PLANTS TO ATTRACT BEES! Here, I have compiled a list of trees, shrubs and hedgerows to suit the different types of bees. Each of these bee plants should be beneficial to more than one species of bee, but some may also help to attract other insect pollinators, such as butterflies, hoverflies, and pollinating beetles.

LATE WINTER - SPRING shrubs, hedgerows and trees for bees: Mahonia Acacia (A. dealbata & A. longifolia) Cherry Plum - Myrobalan (Prunus cerasifera) Pussy Willow (Salix) C(these are great trees for bees, as they provide an early source of pollen) Ribes (Flowering Currant) Broom (Genista) Alder (Alnus glutinosa)

Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis) Winter Honeysuckle C climber great for hedgerows (Lonicera fragrantissima and L. x purpussii) Alnus (A. cordata; A.incana; A. glutinosa) Hazels - Corylus (C. avellana, C. maxima) C again, great trees for bees - especially for pollen Bleeding Heart (Dicentra) SPRING - SUMMER shrubs, hedgerows and trees for bees:

Wild cherry (Prunus avium) Sour cherry (Prunus cerasus) Joshino cherry (Prunus xyeodensis) Bird cherry (Prunus padus) Horse chestnut Escallonia Hawthorn Mountain ash (sorbus) Hollies (Ilex) Rosa rugosa Sallows Guelder rose (Viburnum oppulus) Sloes Rhododendron Cotoneaster American lilac (Ceanothus) June Berry (Snowy mespilus) Pieris Whitebeam Sycamore Hebe Wild Dog Rose (Rosa Canina Apples Pears Wayfaring tree (viburnum lantana) Brambles SUMMER C AUTUMN shrubs, hedgerows and trees for bees: Common Privet C (Ligustrum vulgare) Buddleia Lime trees Eucalyptus Lime trees Whitebeam Sycamore Hypericum

AUTUMN - WINTER shrubs, hedgerows and trees for bees Chinese Euodia (Tetradium daniellii hupehensis) Ivy (climber around hedgerows, & can be encouraged to make a thicket) Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unedo)

More Bee Friendly Plants: Fruit and Vegetables

Many fruit and vegetables are also bee friendly plants, so why not grow your own? Quite a lot of organic, home grown fruit and vegetables provide tasty meals for you, and sources of nectar and pollen for bees. In return, youll benefit greatly from insect pollination, which results in a more abundant fruit and vegetable yield. However, do note that whilst some food crops do not rely on bees or other pollinators to produce fruit, they may rely on them to produce further seeds. I am not able to go through the many varieties of specific fruit and vegetables that may also attract bees. My aim is simply to show you that you can grow your own fruit and vegetables, and at the same time, accommodate bee friendly plants, ( - oh, and this plant list also includes a few species of nuts). Im also demonstrating that many different types of foods rely on bees and other pollinators. Partly for this reason, I have decided to add in a few plants that require warmer climates, than for example in the UK and Northern Europe. As with all my lists, I have endeavoured to include plants that may be visited by more than one type of bee, depending on climate and availability of species (although some types of bees will be more efficient pollinators than others, depending on the kind of plant). On my fruit and vegetable list, I have also combined the seasons from Spring through to Autumn. This is because there are so many varieties available, and careful planting can ensure long seasons for many crop types. GREAT BEE FRIENDLY FRUIT AND VEGETABLE PLANTS SPRING AUTUMN Pears Apples Peaches Kiwi Fruit Cherries Passion Fruit Apricots Melons Plums Onions Carrots Turnips Peas Runner beans Broad beans Corgettes Squashes, pumpkins, gourds Cucumbers Tomatoes Peppers

Aubergines Blackberries Raspberries Logan berry Cranberry Strawberries Blueberry Currants Avocado Macademia Nut Almonds

Vegetable Garden Basics Learn more about how to grow a Vegetable Garden full of lovely fresh produce with a taste far superior to anything you can buy at the supermarket!