June 25, 2015
What do bees need?
Bees are important pollinators and require a diverse range of flowering plants throughout the season.
They require a diverse structure of plants to provide them with somewhere to shelter and feed, hunt for prey and seek a mate.
A south-facing border is particularly beneficial as it also provides somewhere warm as well as improved fruiting and flowering of plants on which the insects seek nectar and food.
Bare earth is important and provides somewhere for the bees to bask and hunt for prey. They also look for somewhere to nest on bare earth - usually a small hole in a warm sheltered bank, or beneath a hedge. Some bees use holes in wood, or brickwork and mortar.
How can I help bees, solitary bees and wasps?
- Provide a range of flowering plants and shrubs in borders. Biennial and perennial plants are best. Remember to provide sources of nectar early and late in the year. Some shrubs are particularly good for this.
- Aim to provide a range of different shaped flowers. This maximises the feeding opportunities to more bees as each species have a different tongue length. Many of the legumes (clovers and pea-like plants) are particularly attractive, as to are honeysuckle and brambles. Single petalled flowering plants are best as they are richer in nectar and pollen. Many of the double-bloomed hybrids provide little in the way of nectar.
- Leave patches of bare earth in warm sheltered places. South-facing banks are particularly attractive and will provide nest sites for all types of these insects. They may also be attracted to use the tubes of bug boxes. If you have to undertake re-pointing to the walls of out buildings, consider leaving some holes where it is safe to do so.
- Dead wood on plants or laying on the floor will provide nesting places. The solitary mournful wasp, parasitizes aphids which it stores in plant stems, in old posts or logs, using the old tunnels or wood boring beetles.
Species to look out for in your garden:
- Marmalade hoverfly
- Drone fly
- White-tailed bumblebee
- Red-tailed bumblebee
- Red mason bee
- Mournful wasp
For more information on how to help bees visit the RSPB website.