How to Help Bees Without a Garden

Published on May 19th 2020
Shallow focus of summer bumble bees seen gathering nectar from wild flowers seen at the front of brick built terraced houses on an empty street.
It's important to remember that there are ways to help bees with or without a garden. For even the smallest of spaces, a window box could have a selection of herbs for kitchen use, whose flowers could also feed the bees.
Preferably, bees like a large area (or clump) of the same species of flower. These patches allow them to save time and energy travelling, as they can source a large quantity of nectar or pollen in one go.
A close up of a bee on some lavendar
Bees can return to their hive and 'tell' other bees where the best forage is, so a larger clump also makes giving directions easier. For this reason, a large area of lavender, for example, would be a lot easier to find than a single bergamot in a mixed flower bed.
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If you don't have a lot of space on your doorstep or window boxes, think about concentrating on one type of plant that has a more extended flowering period. For instance, lavender, catmint, phacelia, borage (great for your summer cocktails) or salvias would all be good choices!
Passiflora has always been popular with the bees I have; the flowers often have three bees on them at any one time. A great hardy climber, one idea could be to cover your wall with passionflowers (and bees) from June to November.
A close up of a passion flower growing up a wall
If you have a flat roof, covering it in sedum would also offer a fabulous plate of forage.
You could also have a go at making a bee hotel to help solitary bees.
If you have no room for flowers but still want to help, then maybe join your local community group or council. By influencing their planting choices on public spaces and verges, you will be able to help the bees as much as a well-planted garden. As far as bees are concerned, every little helps!
First published in August 2019
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