Summer may be long behind us, but there are still bees on the wing, and our gardens (which, according to the people at Wild About Gardens, together cover a greater area than all the National Nature Reserves) can play a huge part in helping to boost declining bee populations.
In the garden here, there are still plenty of plants in bloom for the visiting bees to enjoy. Common Carders and Buff-tailed bumblebees can be spotted on the brushy plumes of Actea simplex “White pearl”, and purple florets of the Verbena bonariensis.
And just this afternoon a queen Tree bumblebee buzzed noisily from flower to flower. She’ll be building up her fat reserves and searching for a suitable nest site where she can see out the winter; the glycerol in her system acting like anti-freeze to keep her alive through the coldest winter months.
Hopefully our choice of plants for the autumn months, to which this year we’ve added Rudbeckias, will give these queens the sustenance they need, and I can rest assured that the first hellebore flowers will be there to welcome them when they emerge, hungry, in the spring.
Planting has certainly been an important part of creating a pollinator friendly patch (click on the Blooms for Bees category to the right if you want to find out more) but bees need more than pollen and nectar to thrive.
Creating a pond has attracted all kinds of wildlife but in August this year it was especially noticeable how important water is for honeybees in hot weather, as hundreds of them hovered over the water and rested on the weed to drink and gather water to take back to their hives.
We’ve also left areas of the garden undisturbed, and were rewarded this year with two bumblebee nests, one of Buff-tailed bumbles, the other of Tree bumblebees.
For the solitary bees we’ve had huge success with one of Green and Blue’s Bee Bricks. To begin with we placed this on a stand next to our vegetable patch where it served brilliantly as a stylish stand alone bee hotel. But we’ve since installed it into our garage wall, making a space for it by chipping out one of the existing red bricks. You can see from the slideshow below just how much the bees use this brilliant product.
If you’re interested in creating a bee- or wildlife-friendly garden there are lots of great tips on the Wild About Gardens Week website.
Thanks to Green and Blue for kindly giving us the Bee Brick when we visited their workshop back in November 2015.