Top tips for creating a bee-friendly garden this spring by TV presenter Alys Fowler
Gardening writer and TV presenter Alys Fowler is offering British gardeners top tips to help our bees, as part of Friends of the Earth’s Bee Cause campaign to save vital bees that pollinate our food and make our countryside, parks and gardens thrive.
Gardeners are also being asked to help urge the Government to strengthen its plans to protect Briatain’s bee populations.
More than 20 UK bee species are already extinct and a quarter of those remaining are at risk – due mainly to their food and nesting sites disappearing, with 97% of wildflower meadows gone in the last 60 years.
Alys Fowler said:
Gardens are becoming one of the most important refuges for Britain’s wild and honey bees, providing chemical-free food, clean water and a place to nest.
The Government must strengthen its plan to protect bees and other pollinators – but gardeners have a key role to play too.
Taking steps to make your garden bee-friendly brings in other beneficial insects and wildlife too, helping your garden to find its natural balance. When the balance is right, there is no such thing as a pest problem, meaning less work for you.
In return, bees will pollinate your fruits and vegetables, giving you more strawberries, apples and tomatoes to enjoy.
Alys’ top tips for a bee-friendly garden
- Planting nectar and pollen rich flowers will help you and the pollinators. Crimson clover (trifolium incarnatum) will please the bees and increase soil fertility through its nitrogen fixing roots.
- Lacy phacelia (phacelia tanacetifolia) is a green manure that if left to flower will bring hordes of bees. Once it has finished flowering, but before it goes to seed, you can dig it in to improve the fertility of your soil.
- Allow edible plants like coriander and rocket to flower, these are attractive to bees and once pollinated you can collect seed to sow for next year.
- Soft fruit is wonderful for bees and delicious to eat too. Take your pick from blackberries, currants and gooseberries to wineberries, blueberries and raspberries – there’s something for every garden.
- Provide a clean source of drinking water for bees. All that’s needed is a shallow bowl with a few pebbles in the middle, so the bees can rest and sip water.
- Wild bees need nesting sites, somewhere dry and warm. Make a ‘bee hotel’ by bundling together some old stems of stuff like Jerusalem artichokes or bamboo canes south west facing out of prevailing winds.
Friends of the Earth’s Executive Director, Andy Atkins said:
Green-fingered gardeners are usually green-minded too, so we hope they’ll help safeguard crucial pollinators by making their gardens bee-friendly
Avoid peat and pesticides
Friends of the Earth is also urging gardeners to avoid pesticides and peat. There are many excellent peat-free alternatives to avoid the destruction of peat bogs, which are important wildlife sites that absorb carbon pollution and reduce flood risk.
Gardeners are also being urged to sign a petition calling for the Government’s plan to reverse bee decline – the draft National Pollinator Strategy – to be considerably strengthened to tackle all the threats bees face, especially from intensive farming and pesticides: www.foe.co.uk/beespetition.