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Gardeners

Gardens open spaces

Planting flowers and bee-ing aware

Whether you own acres of land that could be used to create cover crops for bee forage, or simply have one flower pot on your back deck to contribute, everyone can support pollinator health by growing more bee-attractant flowers and being aware of bees and other beneficial insects.

Honey and wild bees face many challenges, among them inadequate nutrition and reductions in forage areas. Lack of diverse food sources is a major obstacle to improving bee health. Quite simply, bees do not have access to the diverse pollen and nectar sources they need to thrive.

One bee is not the same as another

Apart from the honey bees, which supply us with honey, royal jelly, propolis and wax, there are more than 2,550 bee species in Europe and some 20.000 worldwide. Among them the so-called wild bees – these include the sand, mason, wool carder, or furry bees – and the bigger bumblebees which can reach a size of 30 mm long. Even though none of these other bees produce honey which we can eat, they play a very important role in the pollination of a wide range of wild plants and agricultural crops.

Tips for a garden design that will also help beneficial insects

Whenever possible, plant pollen- and nectar-rich plants.

They will be well adapted to the local climate and soil conditions and will provide a natural food-source for our beneficial insects.

Plant generously and in sunny spots.

Pollinators like big clusters of flowers in light and sunny parts of the garden.

Create nesting and refuge habitats for beneficials.

Beneficials are attracted to hollow spaces. They find them in bamboo sticks, wooden logs with holes drilled in them, in empty snail shells, dead wood or natural stone walls.

Building instruction insect hotel

Offer bees a source of water.

Put small bird baths in your garden and place several stones in them to serve as a platform for bees to stand on when collecting water.


Responsible use of plant protection in your garden

What greater pleasure can there be than to create your own garden or balcony and watch it develop and grow. To help your plants thrive, it is sometimes necessary to protect them from insects and diseases. When using plant protection in your garden and on the balcony, please consider bees and other living creatures and protect them by following these recommendations:

  • When purchasing a garden product ask for professional advice.
  • Always read the product label and follow instructions for dosage and application carefully.
  • Make sure you understand the information concerning the potential risks to bees of plant protection products. Only products that are not harmful for bees are approved for use on flowering plants.
  • Apply plant protection products in early morning or evening hours, when bees are less active.
  • Try and spray in calm weather only, so that the wind does not carry the product to neighboring plants.
  • Store plant protection products in a safe place, which is inaccessible to children. Always keep the packaging and use instructions together with the bottle. Make sure the storage place is dry, and protected from freezing temperatures and heat.
  • If you prefer natural methods to protect your garden plants, there is an interesting range of products which you can also choose from.

If you prefer natural methods to protect your garden plants, there is an interesting range of products which you can also choose from.

Further information on bee friendly gardening

The Feed a Bee initiative (USA only) will engage with people like you, government, non-profit organizations, and businesses to grow 50 million flowers and thousands of acreage of bee forage in 2015.

Good nutrition throughout the year has been identified as a key factor for good health of honey bees and wild bees alike. Everyone can contribute to the increased availability of bee forage, for example, by providing plants, shrubs or trees that are rich in nectar and pollen – ideas for bee-friendly plants and where to buy seed can be found on the internet or ask in your local garden center.

Plants for Bees:
A Guide to the Plants That Benefit the Bees of the British Isles, Hardcover
–by William D.J. Kirk, 1 Oct 2012

Videos

Dr Packer – a biologist at York University talks about bee-friendly gardens:

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