There are around 25,000 species of bees worldwide – but only 270 species found in Britain. All bees are vitally important due to their intimate relationship with flowering plants. It is estimated that in the UK alone, the annual value of bee pollination on agricultural crops is an astonishing £200 million! With the global decline of precious honeybee colonies, what can we do for our flying friends?
Asses your borders for nectar and pollen rich plants; restrict pesticides and provide wildlife havens such as bug hotels.
Best Plants for Bees
Honeybees – Bramble (Rubus), Borage (Borago), Cherry (Prunus), Lime (Tillia), Asters, Orchard fruits, Willows (Salix)
Bumble bees – Bramble (Rubus), Foxglove (Digitalis), Knapweed (Centaurea), Rhododendrons , Willows (Salix), Vetch
Solitary bees – Bellflowers (Campanula), Cornflower (Centaurea), cranesbill (Geranium), Willows (Salix), Lambs ear (Stachys)
There is speculation as to whether bees prefer native flora being native fauna. The RHS have carried our tests as to what is more beneficial for our pollinators – given that 70% tends to be made up of non- native plants in our British gardens. The results were mixed. Long tongued bees and solitary bees showed no preference; whereas short tongued bees preferred native plants and yet honeybees were more abundant in near-native beds. The out coming advice was to plant mixed flowering beds from different regions and to try to extend the flowering season for as long as possible.