Gardening expert Paraic Horkans has given us his expert advice for attracting bees to your garden. Paraic explains that bees are a very important part of the environment. Did you know that bees contribute over $60 billion to the world economy or that they account for one in every three mouthfuls of food we consume every day? These are obviously very important insects so it is surprising that Honey Bees are dying at an alarming rate worldwide. For example: in 2008 and 2009, 1.8 million bee colonies have died in the USA alone.
Why are Bees important?
Bees are important as they help plants to pollinate their seed to reproduce. As a method to successfully reproduce, plants have evolved to make themselves more attractive to flying insects. Paraic suggests that plants that provide lots of nectar and pollen equal very happy bees. Nectar is the substance which attracts bees to the plant. It is a sugary, nutrient filled liquid which is found in glands at the base of a flower. Bees give the nectar to their larvae as a source of energy. This sticky sweet stuff provides essential carbohydrates the larvae need to become fully grown bees. Also nectar is used by bees to make honey.
How do I attract Bees?
1. Choose plants that flower at different times of the year
2. Choose a variety of different plants
3. Early Spring, early Summer and Autumn are important times
4. Look at the surrounding environment and fill the gaps
5. Remember Flowering Trees also offer an abundance of pollen and nectar
Plants to attract Bees:
Here is a small example of some of the plants and trees which Paraic discusses to attract bees to your garden:
- Phacelia: Full of Nectar & Pollen for 5months
- Lavender: Both English & French – Long flowering period June to September.
- Echinops (Globe Thistle): June to September
- Cotoneaster Horizontals: Both flowers and Berries
- Choisya Ternata Azetc Pearl: Summer flowers
- Comfrey – Russian Comfrey: High in nectar, high in Potash, long flowering, easy to grow, super organic fertiliser for plants, loved by bees
- California Poppies: long flowering period
- Philadelphus Virginal – Mock Orange
Tree’s that Attract Bees:
- Amelanchier – the snowy Mespelis: covered in white flowers – pollen and nectar
- Blackthorn – White thorn: pollen and nectar – early flowers
- Single flowering Cherries & Almonds: Lots of nectar and pollen – fruiting varieties are superb
- Sorbus family – Mountain ash and white beams: white flowers followed by berries.
- Tilia Vulgaris – Common lime: covered in flowers – full of pollen and nectar /whiteish honey
- Malus Family – Flowering and fruiting Crab apples: excellent pollinators
- Spanish chestnut: flowers july – pollen and nectar
- Holly: all varieties – white flowers and berries.
- Liquidamber – sweet Gum: white flowers – nectar – superb Autumn colour.
- Prunus x subhirtella Autumnalis: Autumn / winter flowering cherry
- Irish Willows