All about the bees blog

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The best flowering herbs for attracting bees

This week the Horticultural Trading Association guest blog shares their ideas on the top herbs for attracting bees to your garden. They are also offering you a chance to win a herb garden set that you can grow in your garden.

Bee on lavender

Herbs are the unsung heroes when it comes to enticing our furry flying friends into our gardens. Deliciously fragrant to both humans and bees, pollinators absolutely crave flowering herbs, especially those that prefer lots of sun. From our slim honeybees to our big furry bumbles, the following herbs are a must if you want to create a bee-friendly super haven in your garden.

Lavender

LavenderThere’s nothing more hypnotic than sitting in your garden watching bees collect nectar from lavender. The plant is most often grown for its fragrant, relaxing scent. The soothing aroma produces a slight calming effect when inhaled. This makes for a wonderful experience peacefully observing the bees, watching them dance softly back and forth, feeling completely connected to nature.

However the effect is slightly different for our bee friends, they go absolutely crazy for the nectar-rich plant. This is because some of the world’s highest-quality pollen is produced from lavender. This makes for some very happy, healthy bees. Furthermore, lavender is a hardy plant and easy to grow, recommended for beginner gardeners.  It flowers during the summer months.

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Are allotments really bee-friendly? A Guest blog from Emma Nelson

Emma Nelson joined BBCT as a volunteer earlier this year, and writes and gardens as a hobby. She wrote this article as an appeal to her local Allotments Association, to highlight how, despite providing an amazing food supply for pollinators for much of the year, gardens and plots can fail to sustain bumblebees at crucial points in their lifecycle.

Garden Bumblebee (Bombus hortorum) feeding on Red Clover (Trifolium pratense).

Think you know how to garden for bees on your allotment? Think again. I'm a big fan of gardening for bees, - bumblebees and wild bees in particular (they, not the honeybee, pollinate 2/3 of our crops that require pollinating). The more I read, the more I realise how almost arrogantly assuming I have been about their dietary requirements (just because they happen to visit my Eryngium, strawbs, lavender, or any of the abovementioned flowers that I happen to like and have come across as bee-friendly).

I had the great pleasure of meeting an experienced gardener, entomologist and volunteer with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust at Leicester University's Botanic Gardens at the end of May. Maggie began gardening aged 6, when her dad allocated a portion of their just post-war allotment to each of the children, "I grew flowers and sold them, I got to keep the earnings off it".

Maggie was taking a group of us on a bumblebee identification trail around the glorious gardens. We had an ident sheet of the 8 "common bumblebees" we were likely to see (there are 24 UK species). Maggie was worried about one of them, the Garden Bumblebee (bombus hortorum). "I haven't seen it in my garden much this year", she explained, "I think it's also now in danger. It's one of the species with very long tongues, and the flowers they like are becoming less common" - and will continue to do so, if the bees that pollinate them decline.

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Controlling garden pests without pesticides

With so much concern around the use of pesticides in agriculture, it’s easy to forget that pesticides are regularly used in gardens. Pretty much anything designed to kill insects or ‘bugs’ can also kill bees, butterflies, ladybirds and whole range of insects that people like to see. So what’s the alternative for gardeners who want to control the pests that chomp their plants?

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Bumblebees and Flowers: A Complex Relationship

We have a special guest article from Dick Alderson, who has been recording bumblebees at the same site since 2008 .  He has made some interesting observations about the flowers that the bees prefer to visit...

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Fruit trees and bees

This month's guest article comes from Catherine, a gardener at Chenies Manor in Buckinghamshire. Read on to see her advice on making orchards better for bees...

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