|Do you remember when you were a child and your granny’s garden was full with the buzz of summer bees? Sadly many of our gardens seem to be buzz-free zones now, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Recently there’s been quite a renaissance in beekeeping but sadly without flowers these new-age honeybees Apis mellifera will go hungry and the honey jars will stay empty. So if you’re thinking of keeping honeybees it’s worth considering how you will keep them well fed and healthy, and for those who don’t want to go down the beekeeping route how about encouraging just a few of the the hundreds of other bee species into your garden? Both just need a little bit of careful gardening.
Give bees a reason to visit
Not many people know that the UK is home to more than 250 species of wild bee; this includes 24 species of bumblebee (about 6 of these are common in gardens), honeybees (the bulk of these are not ‘wild’ but have come from domesticated stock) and solitary bees, a very overlooked, beautiful and often beneficial family of bees.
In Dorset we have at least 218 species of solitary bee. Due to a lack of natural habitat in the countryside, more and more of these species are becoming reliant on our garden flowers for their food and nesting sites, and it’s not hard to entice them in and get your garden buzzing.
Cheap and easy to do
For a couple of years now I’ve been experimenting in my garden with different types of flowers to tempt them in with great success. Within days of planting a Pulmonaria augustifolia with striking spring blue flowers, it had not only attracted a small snail-shell bee, Osmia bicolor, but also seemed to be irresistible to the hairy-footed flower bee, Anthophora plumipes (no points for guessing where it got its name). How often can a £4.50 plant from a garden centre give you such an unusual buzz?
And it’s not just bee-food you can supply. A simple ‘bee hotel’ made from discarded hollow garden stems or canes, or using specially bought bee-tubes, is the perfect nesting site for red mason bees, Osmia rufa, who will also collect nectar from and pollinate your apple, pear, plum and raspberry canes. So not just beautiful but useful too!
SUN 1st April BEEKEEPING TASTER DAY
10.00 am to 4.00 pm. Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Kingcombe Centre, Toller Porcorum, nr Maiden Newton, DT2 0EQ. £45 To book ring 01300 320684 or visit the Kingcombe website.
Notes to Editor
For more information please contact Sophie Franks or Nick Tomlinson at Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Kingcombe Centre on 01300 320684.
About Dorset Wildlife Trust www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk
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Working for a secure future for Dorset’s wildlife enriching the quality of life
Dorset Wildlife Trust works to champion wildlife and natural places, to engage and inspire people and to promote sustainable living. Founded in 1961, DWT is now the largest voluntary nature conservation organisation in Dorset, with over 25,000 members and over 40 nature reserves. Most are open daily and there are visitor centres providing a wealth of wildlife information at Brooklands Farm, Lorton Meadows, Kingcombe Meadows and Brownsea Island Nature Reserves, The Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve and the Urban Wildlife Centre at Upton Heath Nature Reserve. DWT plays a key role in dealing with local environmental issues and leads the way in establishing the practices of sustainable development and engaging new audiences in conservation, particularly in the urban areas.
Hairy-footed flower bee Anthophora plumipes (male) - photo by Jane Adams