Telephone 0161 440 8060
Wholesale plant nursery serving the industry for over 40 years

See our Latest Stock

Download our stock list for our comprehensive range


Find the
Perfect Plant

Browse our comprehensive plant library
for inspiration


9 easy ways to help the bees in your garden

Although there is encouraging news about the increasing numbers of the once-extinct short-haired bumblebee (Bombus subterraneus) in the south east of England, bees in general are fighting for survival because of the adverse effects of climate change. That’s bad news for agriculture and also terrible news for gardeners who rely on these wonderful creatures for plant pollination.

Agriculture is increasingly becoming specialised, and single crop cultivation has decimated our hedgerows and wildflowers. But is there anything home gardeners can do to lessen the plight of this threatened species? Are there any steps you can take to make up for the loss of natural countryside habitats that bees once frequented?

Ladybrook Nursery’s top tips for helping bees in your garden.

Let the bees help you

You don’t have to be an expert, and you certainly don’t have to have a large garden. Small spaces can be attractive to bees too. If you only have a small space, try putting pots on the patio, herbs in a window box or using a hanging basket. Every effort, however small, will be of help to bees. It’s all about growing the right plants. Here you should let the bees be your guide. If you choose the right plants it will soon become apparent.

If you have a larger garden then try planting trees, shrubs and larger plants to provide height in your borders. A cherry or birch tree can form a backdrop to ‘layers’ of plants of different height and size closer to the front of the border. Low growing heathers and crocus in the front will provide colour and help feed bees in the barren months.

Season cycle

Like you, bees need food and shelter all year round – so think about seasonal planting.  Establish which plants will flower and provide the nectar (carbohydrates) and pollen (protein) bees need. Remember that late winter is the time to sow seeds for spring and summer plants. Autumn planted bulbs will burst forth in spring. When the soil warms in the spring, try growing sunflowers that will rise through the year, and stand proud as they feed bees and birds alike, and when they’ve died back, cut them off but leave the stump and roots in the ground to return nutrients to the soil.

Be curious

Don’t worry about looking nosey; peek over the garden fence and see which of your neighbours’ plants are doing well, and are being visited by bees. If you like the plants the bees like ask your neighbour what they are or take a picture and ask your garden centre. For added impact when you’re at the garden centre, have a look to see which plants bees are visiting there.

Add variety

Bees need different plants for food – from trees, hedges and shrubs, to bulbs, herbs and grasses throughout the seasons. Small trees like hazel, holly and pussy (or goat) willow help bees at different times of the year. Ivy is a top food in autumn – try not to cut it cut it back until after flowering.

It doesn’t matter whether you prefer growing plants of vegetables: bees will love both. Try mixing them up if you feel like it: there’s no need to keep things formal and separate unless you want to of course. The greater variety of plant life, the greater the variety of bugs and birds they will support.

Bees are a valuable asset in a veg garden as they will help pollinate your vegetables – try French, runner and broad beans; aubergines, onions and peppers. They’ll do the same for fruit – from apples, pears and plums to blackberries, strawberries and raspberries.

Providing shelter

Insects need shelter like the rest of us. So let some of your lawn grow longer if you can. If you do feel the need to mow, try cutting less often and less closely as this will help to give pollinators places to feed and shelter among the grass.

Another cheap way to help is with a small wood pile in a corner where bugs can nest and feed. This micro-habitat will decay over time and give a natural look. Use logs or sawn off tree branches but avoid treated wood. Even a small heap of pruned branches and twigs will give shelter and can be placed out of sight at the back of a border.

Your compost may in time get occupied by harmless queen bumblebees and grass snakes seeking a place to nurture their young. Don’t worry, they will move on but you will be helping them significantly if you simply let them be.

Go easy with the insecticides

Bee-harming pesticides and herbicides are implicated in bee decline. When dealing with real pests like aphids is as easy as spraying them with jets of water or stripping them off with gloved hands.

Avoid peat-based composts

Help to keep our threatened peat bogs intact by using the many good alternatives that now exist. Public concern about the loss of these unique natural habitats has persuaded the Government to phase out the sale of peat in garden centres by 2020.

Sowing seeds

Growing from seed is growing in popularity, especially vegetables. It is a cheap way to get the full experience of tending through to maturity and is the ideal method for creating pollinator-friendly habitats such as wildflower meadows. Look for heritage and naturally ‘open-pollinated’ seeds which help keep the diverse genetic make-up of what is being grown – contributing to greater biodiversity.

Insects can be allies not enemies

Beneficial insects like hoverflies, beetles and ladybirds hunt aphids and other pests so treat them as allies not enemies. We can have great gardens and help bees and other nature at the same time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get inspired,
read our blog ...

Help Hibernating Butterflies in the Winter

Have you ever thought about what happens to hibernating butterflies in the winter? As a landscaper, this is something you should take into consideration. It’s a difficult season for them, but a butterfly house could be the perfect solution! Butterflies are beautiful in sunnier months, but in winter, they need a place to hibernate.

The Great Pumpkin Harvest

The final transition to autumn is a wonderful time of year, with one last bloom before the winter takes over. For many people, one of the highlights of this season is when the large leaves of pumpkins and squash finally die back to reveal the fruits beneath. It’s the moment you discover that all of…

2019 Garden Trends to Watch Out for with GLEE

At the beginning of September, GLEE, the horticultural trades show in Birmingham, demonstrated the future for gardeners and landscapers across the UK. We are seeing a rise in products designed to make gardening and landscaping easier. What’s more, we are now seeing the rise of the urban garden! The average UK garden size is 50…

Common Chilli Plant Problems

Many people are getting into the habit of growing their own edibles in their garden. However, some edibles can be quite difficult to grow, especially for beginners. The chilli plant is a common struggle for many newbies. Growing Chillies is a rewarding endeavour as you can make delicious recipes straight from the garden. There are,…