“Bumblebees are key factors in our wildlife. If they disappear many of our plants will not bear fruit. ”David Attenborough
A week ago I came home to find a large bumblebee curled up, crisp, on our garden path. The day had been exceptionally hot, and it must have become dehydrated. A few days before this I had opened the kitchen door to take out the rubbish, only to be met by another bee bumbling its way across the doormat towards me. It was moving quite slowly, so I popped back into the house and whipped up a ‘bee reviver’- sugar water. This is really easy to make ; 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar in one tablespoon of water (as suggested by the RSPB). I poured some onto a teaspoon and placed it carefully in front of the bee. It crawled towards it, antenna quivering, and promptly stuck its proboscis into the liquid. I watched the bee imbibing my concoction, with a (stupid, no doubt) grin on my face. It worked a treat, and the bee flew off a short while later.
I have read quite a few articles lately about how bee numbers are declining. This is mostly due to changes in farming practice.Traditional agricultural techniques that allowed bee friendly plants to thrive have been bypassed for more intensive methods of farming.
I want to support our bee population, and don’t want to find any more ‘crispy’ bees around the garden . I decided to create a ‘bee nice’ patch, made up of bee friendly plants and a watering spot. This marks the first project to kick off our 30 days wild.
Most people can get bees to visit their patch by a bit of cunning gardening.The RHS has compiled several lists of plants that will provide nectar and pollen for bees. The Bumblebee conservation site has a fun quiz that enables you to find out how bee friendly your plot is. We scored ok, but have plenty of room for improvement!
There are lots of bee friendly wildflowers in the meadow beside the farmhouse, including hawthorn, foxglove, honeysuckle and white clover. We decided to put the ‘bee café on the patio, adjacent to this patch. We already have a small herb garden on the here, where we grow rosemary, thyme and lavender (all attractive to bees).
We added a new plant- a Scabious. The bees will have to wait a bit as it isn’t flowering yet. Hopefully (after pay day!) we can add some more plants. Catmint might be next!
JoJo also helped with creating a ‘water bar’ for thirsty bees and other passing insects. If a 7 month old can do it, it must be easy! We placed some stones on an old plate (technically ‘vintage’, lucky bees!) so the bees had something to rest on, and topped up with a splash of water. This sits neatly next to the pots. It all looks quite smart at the moment, but we haven’t seen many bees. Hopefully things will pick up as we make the ‘menu’ at the cafe more appealing!
If you spot a bee in need of a ‘pick me up’, please remember not to offer honey. Lots of brands of honey are imported and may not be suitable for our native bee species. In addition, only use granulated sugar to make sugar water and don’t put too much out – a teaspoonful is plenty as you don’t want to drown your bee!