Bee-Friendly Plants & Flowers
Do you remember day trips in the summer as a child when the windscreen was full of bug road kill by the end of the day? Well, the Big Bug Count in 2004 by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) revealed just one squashed bug on a car windscreen for every five miles driven. So, today we don’t need so much windscreen wash but the lack of bug life is an urgent signal that vital polinators and a key part of the food chain are disappearing.
Honeybees are under attack from man destroying their habitat. Perfect looking lawns are sterile wastelands for bees and many beautiful flowers contain little pollen and nectar.
A Call For Action – “Flower Power”
In the BBC programme “”Bees, Butterflies & Blooms”, broadcast in February 2012, Sarah Raven, backed by evidence, claims “One of the main reasons our pollinators are under threat is due to their poor health and nutrition. A lack of a rich and varied supply of pollen and nectar throughout the year to feed our insect workforce is leaving them vulnerable to the effects of pesticides and parasites and threatening some species with extinction. “
She goes on to make a call for action “If we all make small changes in our local areas and grow more wildflowers and insect-friendly plants, then we can lend a strong helping hand to our bees, butterflies and pollinating bugs. Together, we could help to reverse the trend, maybe stop extinctions and secure a future for our threatened pollinating insects.” I reckon she knows what she’s talking about. And I reckon it’s time for some action!
So, if you have fond memories of those bug-splattered windscreens, care about our environment and worry about the possibility of not having anything to drizzle on your crumpets, then it’s time to do something. Say “no to the patio”, “don’t do decking”, “no more lawn”. And yes, unashamedly, and without the need for a moustache, shout “flower power”.
I confess, before I started beekeeping, all that I knew about flowers was my nearly-wife didn’t like the ones from the garage. But now, I could probably hold my own over a pint with Alan Titchmarsh.
Top Three Bee-Friendly, Garden-Friendly Flowers
The best garden flowers for bees were researched by rosybee and published in the BBKA News (link to research). This research ranked garden flowers by taking the average number of bees observed per square meter and multiplying this by the number of weeks the plant was in flower. The results showed how to get the most out of one square metre of garden.
* Paid for link by rosybee who are living the beekeeping dream, having created a 6 acre bee haven and selling plants for bees.
Top came Echium vulgare, which grows up to 150cm high and produces blue flowers. But, whilst worth mentioning, having read that this flower is covered in sharp spines which can become lodged in the skin much like those of a cactus and are a skin irritant I have not included this in the the top 3 below.
- Flowers for 12 weeks
- Propogation: divide, cuttings or self seeds
- Can be used as herb
- Grows up to 60cm
- Can be used as herb
- Photo from rosybee
|3. Helenium autumnale|
- Grows up to 1m
Bee-Friendly Flowers By Season
Bees need flowers throughout the foraging period from March to October. It’s a good idea to have nectar and pollen-rich plants in flower at any one time during this period. The nectar feeds the adult bee and the pollen feeds the brood.
Bees love the following flowers:
And the UK Herb Society believe the following herbs are bee-friendly: Angelica, Bergamot, Betony, Borage, Catmint, Chicory, Chives, Clover, Comfrey, Common Poppy, Cornflower, Dahlias, Dill, Echinacea, Evening Primrose, Fennel, Feverfew, Foxglove, Goldenrod, Heartsease, Horehound (White), Hyssop, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Lungwort, Marjoram, Mint, Motherwort, Mullein, Nasturtium, Pot Marigold, Rosemary, Sage, Savory (Summer & Winter), Soapwort, Sunflower, Tansy, Teasel, Thistle, Thyme, Tobacco Plant, Valerian, Viper’s Bugloss, Wild clary, Woad, Yarrow.
Where To Buy Seeds
Many cultivated garden plants have been carefully bred for their colour and flowers size but the breeders were not considering their pollen and nectar loads and the results is many are sterile. If you are in the UK, want to buy plants that have been grown for bees and have them delivered to your, I recommend rosybee. It also means your garden can start to look good sooner.
Amazon is as good as place as any for seeds. I have done the hard work and selected seeds based on most bee-friendly and best-value.
Wild flower meadow seeds
Recommended gardening books*
* The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) book is the “gardening bible”.
Adopt A Hive
|If you don’t have anywhere to sew your seeds, you can always adopt a beehive (and essentially sponsor a beekeeper). The scheme opposite, makes a great present and:
Please let us all know of further bee-friendly plants and seeds.
If you want to know more about the plight of the honeybee and the benefits of planting meadows, please visit my honeybees page and especially watch the video at the end. Or for some lighter reading you might like to read some of my favourite posts.