Information shows how the public can provide assistance to wild bees

Lasioglossum calceatum bee

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and The Wildlife Trust say that their ‘Bee Creative in the Garden!’ campaign is has had a fantastic response from gardeners who are creating havens for wild bees across the UK. New polls reveal how people would most like to help wild bees:

Which of these bee-friendly plants would you most like to plant in your garden? (752 votes)

  • 47%  Foxglove
  • 25%  Sunflower
  • 16%  Borage
  • 12%  Single dahlias

Which of these actions are you most likely to do to help wild bees? (342 votes)

  • 60%  Let your lawn grow long
  • 35%  Make a bee home
  • 5%    Dig a pond

The organisations reminded the public of the following information about bees:

All species of bumblebee are active at this time of year. Towards the end of the season (August to September) bumblebee nests start producing males and new queens. Queens are usually significantly larger than the worker females, and may linger at the nest initially, but will eventually mate and then forage to build up their body fat in preparation for hibernation over winter.

  • Common Colletes (Colletes succinctus) – a striking-looking solitary bee that uses heather as its principal pollen source.
  • Harebell Carpenter Bee (Chelostoma campanularum) – this tiny black bee collects pollen from garden species of bellflower. You can also help them by leaving dead wood with holes in for nesting and by making a bee hotel from dried reed stems.
  • The Common Furrow Bee (Lasioglossum calceatum) is around for most of the year. In August both males and females may be found on a wide variety of garden flowers.
  • Leaf-cutter bees are active until the end of August and you can sometimes see distinctive circular and oval shapes that the female bee cuts out of leaves, particularly roses. She carries the leaf pieces back to the nest site, gluing them together with sticky saliva to create a cigar-shaped nest to lay eggs in. Nest sites can include cavities in brickwork and rotting wood in addition to pipes, pots and old bags of compost.
  • A relatively recent arrival to the UK is the Ivy Bee (Colletes hederae). Not everyone will have seen the species but its range is increasing rapidly. This bee is active in the autumn months and gathers pollen almost entirely from ivy flowers, the latest flowering native plant. Bees nest by burrowing into the soil and small piles of the excavated soil can sometimes be seen in large numbers on lawns.

More information is available on the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society website.

2 COMMENTS

  1. It’s a huge pity that so many front gardens have been paved over entirely, for car parking, when just a few plants in a narrow side border, or corner triangle, could continue to give space for flowers or flowering shrubs–and all those who feed on them.

    Likewise, most of those who still actively garden still seem wedded to the close-cut lawn, and the bare earth school of plants dotted around a bare soil bed –or the lifeless modern garden of gravel or bark on membrane with an olive, phormium and a bamboo .

    I am lucky to enjoy a large garden with a lawn, which has four wildflower and grasses islands, and is surrounded by borders planted with a range of shrubs chosen for a combination of flowers and foliage, fruit trees, and herbaceous plants, mainly geraniums. 12 years ago, we moved into a traditional 1970’s suburban garden of shaven lawns, surrounded by immaculate hedges of Leyland cypress “Castelewellan Gold”, which I have since removed. (Yes!!)

    Bees , hover flies, moths and butterflies seem to enjoy every plant we have, whether these are native or non native .

    My conclusion is –don’t agonise too much on species– just plant as many abundantly flowering plants as your space allows–then sit back and admire the bees as they work every plant. They visit my laurel hedge too, to sup on a sticky honeydew , early in the spring.

    Lewis White

  2. Good reply. We tend to let our garden enjoy its ‘freedom’ and plants that really attract bees and other insects include Bronze fennel and varieties of heuchera which have the tiniest of flowers…but the bees still go mad for them. We recently dug a second pond and within a few months most of the flowering marginals that have taken off are swarming with bees. I agree that they don’t seem to care whether the plants are native or not, something the BUGs project in Sheffield concluded. We live in a small Sheffield terrace and our garden is only just over 3m wide but there’s still loads of room for wild areas as well as formal and the bees love it all.

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