The best flowers to plant to help the bees – six things to grow to help nature
Australia: Beekeeper removes 60,000 bees from a home
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Unfortunately, bee numbers have sadly dropped significantly in recent years, with a third of all bee populations in the UK currently in decline. But it’s not too late to take action to help save the bees. Though grain crops are largely pollinated by the wind, the majority of fruits, nuts and vegetables are pollinated by bees.
What’s more, according to Greenpeace, 70 out of the top 100 human food crops – which supply about 90 percent of the world’s nutrition – are pollinated by bees.
And, according to a study by the University of Reading, bees and other pollinating insects are worth some £690 million to the economy every year.
Sally Bavin, Woodland Trust conservation adviser, told The Independent: “From a woods and trees conservation angle, the succession of early blossom from a diverse range of native trees and shrub species such as blackthorn, wild cherry and hawthorn provide nectar for bees early in the season.
“Some bee species rely on old, decaying trees for nesting habitat – a habitat which has declined severely.
“Dead wood and veteran trees are features lacking in many of our woodlands with a negative impact on woodland ecological condition, including bee nesting habitat.”
She added: “In your garden you can provide a bee hotel which mimics the habitat naturally provided by beetle exit holes in decaying wood.”
Nectar from plants provides them with the energy they need to fly and nest, while pollen provides bee grubs with the protein they need to grow.
By growing a good mix of flowering plants in your garden, you can provide a wealth of nectar and pollen for a wide range of bee species.
What garden plants are best for bees?
When it comes to planting bee-friendly plants, the best options are to go native to your area.
Native trees, shrubs, wildflowers and grasses are all excellent options that will help save the bees.
In terms of specific flowers, there are plenty that bees love and will look great in your garden, from National Open Garden Scheme.
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English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) – Bees see the colour purple more clearly than any other so any purple plant will be a hit.
Lavender, and English Lavender in particular, seems to be a firm favourite.
Bergamot – Also known as Bee Balm, this low-maintenance perennial looks great all summer long.
Bluebeard– A small perennial, which is purplish blue in colour. Also very popular with butterflies.
Single Dahlias – Bees often struggle with double flowers as they are usually quite elaborate, so single flowers are the best for pollinators. Bees are particularly attracted to Bishop of Oxford dahlias.
Rose Campion – A long-flowering perennial, Rose Campion keeps the bees occupied all summer.
Heleniums – These late-summer perennials not only look great late but bees and butterflies are particularly fond of them too.
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