Bees are one of the most important pollinator species in the world and as gardeners, it is our responsibility to provide a safe and friendly environment for them.
If you are interested in creating a bee-friendly garden, read further to find out what you can do in your garden, on your patio or around your container garden to attract these important pollinators.
Flowers all year round
Bees need two things: pollen and nectar and if you can provide either to them on a constant basis, you are well away for having a bee-friendly space.
Plan your seasonal garden around plants that provide flowers in every season. Think aloes in winter, plectranthus in autumn, fruit trees in spring and herbs, all year round. It is also important to take the colour, scent and shape of flowers into consideration.
It is a known fact that bees are attracted to bright colours. Violet is said to be the most liked colour of all but if you have blue, yellow, orange, white or purple flowers in your garden, they will do just as good!
Top tip: Create a floral focus point by grouping plants of the same colour together so that bees can find them more easily.
Bees love sweet-scented flowers. The more the better. Think plectranthus, jasmine, honeysuckle or sweet peas.
Bees enjoying this single rose bloom
Bees have different tongue lengths, so the more variety you can provide in flower shape and size, the better.
Top tip: Make sure that you have a lot of single flower varieties in your garden. The more petals a flower has, the more difficult it will be for a bee to reach the pollen and nectar.
Bees in an artichoke flower
Allow veg and herbs to flower
Next time you plan your vegetable and herb garden, add a few extra plants or seeds for the bees that you will allow to go into flower and not necessarily harvest. Bees love the flowers of rocket, fennel, carrot and many more.
Citrus tree flowers
Grow fruit trees
If you have space, consider planting a fruit tree and most definitely a citrus tree. If you are low on space, you can still consider planting a citrus tree in a pot. The latter does not only smell nice and provide fruit for food or that lovely G&T but will also provide food for bees for a prolonged period of time.
Large rock inside a bird bath
Water is life
Just like humans, bees need water. Make sure your garden has one or a few water sources that are friendly to bees. They need to have a place to sit where they can reach the water.
- Place pebbles in a shallow tray and fill it with water
- Place a big rock in the centre of a birdbath that will stick out above the surface of the water so that bees and birds can sit on it whilst drinking water
Buddleja auriculata hedge
Whether it’s a container with a rosemary bush in, a hedge comprised of buddleja's or a garden filled with a variety of trees, shrubs and groundcovers, the more diverse you can go, the better.
Have a look at this collection of bee-friendly plants in our KNOWLEDGE tab of the app:
A sunflower covered in bees in @susie-harris-leblond's garden
Bee magnet here we come! Not only are they a rich source of nectar and pollen, but they are also beautiful, provide food for birds and other insects if left to go to seed and bonus, it’s a nice activity to do with your kids - sowing sunflower seeds.
Avoid pesticides and chemicals
Pesticides are not good for bees. Point. Rather try natural ways of fighting off pests like neem oil, soap, garlic, Epsom salts or Gundula’s organic pesticide:
Low on space
Herbs are a great source of nectar and pollen. Why not try a variety of herbs for a windowsill box or terracotta pot on your stoep? The following are just a few loved by bees:
Salvia officinalis 'Purpurea'
Salvia officinalis 'Purpurea'
Nepeta x faassenii
Cichorium intybus f. album
Build a bee house
Watch this space - we’ll share something soon!
Relax the weeding
Some weeds provide a lot of food for bees. Consider keeping the weeds a little longer in the soil so that they can go into flower for the bees, but be sure to remove them before they shoot seeds!