It’s finally spring and we can just feel the buzz in the air - metaphorically as well as literally!
If you take a quiet walk through the nursery and stop to listen, you can hear the buzz of the bees. They’re back. While we have had the odd forager during the winter months, most of the bees have been staying inside, feeding on their honey reserves until the warm weather returns. These last few weeks, they’ve discovered the flowers of the hellebores, and more recently, they’ve returned to the lavender.
Bees are wonderful creatures - non aggressive little guys with an amazing work ethic. We co-exist with them quite peacefully here where they forage amongst the flowers while we deadhead, prune and fertilise. It’s quite unusual to be stung, and Noel even likes to pat them (although we do not recommend doing this yourself)!
Many people are scared of bees, but we love them and our gardens are so much healthier and more abundant with a thriving bee population. If you are growing veggies in your backyard, bees will most likely be your primary pollinators, so they are essential for a good harvest. On a global scale, it is recognised that bees pollinate around 80% of our food, so these little guys are literally making food to feed the whole world! That’s a pretty important job they have.
Bees are vulnerable and need to be protected
Bees are facing a number of threats to their existence. Pesticide use, honey bee colony collapse, increased use of pesticides, and diseases spread by other insects such as varroa mite, means it’s important we all do our bit in our backyards to try and protect bees.
How can you help?
Limit the amount of pesticides you use. Chemicals can’t differentiate between a good bug and a bad bug. Many beneficial insects also die when we spray to control common pests like aphids, caterpillars, thrips etc.
If possible, try to manage insect outbreaks naturally, or choose the pesticides with lower toxicity levels. Some chemicals are so toxic to bees that they can wipe out a whole hive if an exposed bee takes it back to the colony.
Put a bee bath in your garden. We have bird baths in the nursery filled with ornamental fish. The bees love it! They land on the fish and take a drink. You could try this at home.
It doesn’t have to be a bird bath, it could be a bowl of water with some pebbles in the bottom, or a rock placed in the middle. They just need something they can land on.
Plant bee attracting flowers. Bees love lavender, catmint, echinacea, hellebores, the flowers of herbs such as oregano, thyme, chives and mint. In the nursery, ur bees are very fond of foraging in the salvias and foxgloves.
Echium candicans, sunflowers and Sedum Autumn Joy make bees go crazy!
Scientists say that the easiest colours for bees to see are purple, violet and blue, followed by yellow and orange.
Try to plan your garden so you have something flowering for the bees each season.
Planting a bee friendly garden isn’t just good for the bees either. With a variety of flowers blooming and bees happily foraging, your garden will feel alive all year round. And surely that is good for the human inhabitants too!