While planting bee-friendly flowers on in your garden, on your balcony, roof terrace or windows sill is a wonderful way to help our declining bees, there are plenty of other fun and interesting ways to give our pollinating friends a boost.
Three simple practices that can help pollinators dramatically:
1. Let it grow!
Cut grass less often and ideally remove the clippings to allow plants to flower. Native flowering plants in grass areas, field corners, verges and specially sown flower-rich habitats support the greatest diversity of insect pollinators by providing nectar and pollen resources, places to nest or breed and leaves for caterpillars.
2. Do not disturb!
Let hibernating insects and any nests alone in places like grass margins, bare soil, hedgerows, trees, dead wood or walls.
Just as important as giving them the food resources they need in flowers is making sure insects can nest in safety so that they can survive, along with the next generation, overwinter, to start fresh the next spring.
3. Think carefully about pesticides!
Take time and think carefully about whether you should or need to use pesticides, in particularly and especially where pollinators are active or nesting or where plants are in flower. Consider what methods are most appropriate for your situation and only use pesticides if absolutely necessary. Many people in a variety of environmental conditions and landscapes choose to avoid chemicals and have been able to successfully adopt methods like physically removing pests or using barriers to deter them. If you do choose to use a pesticide, always follow the instructions on the labels.
Here are some more ideas for pollinator friendly practices and resources for more detailed guidance.
Use native plants. Pollinators are more used to these varieties and they grow well. Local wild plants will be well adapted to your soil type and climate plus will often be resistant to pests. Download this pollinator plant list highlighting many native species.
Clumps, variety and herbs. Plant in clumps to make it easier for pollinators to find the flowers. Planting a variety so flowers bloom throughout the season. And plant herbs! Both you and bees will enjoy fresh balcony grown herbs. Click on the image for more info on bee-friendly flowers to plant.
Make a bee hotel. Making a DIY bee hotel is a great activity for kids and adult gardeners. From the very simple to the more elaborate, these are perfect ways to attract pollinators to your garden with safe places to nest. Click on the images to watch videos of ways to make your own bee hotel.
Make a watering hole. Bees and other insects need water too, especially on hot days. Make a simple watering hole out of a dish and stones or a fancy one out of an old bird bath. Don't forget the mud for the mason bees. They use it to build their homes. Click on the images for examples.
Create a wildflower meadow. Nectar rich flowers such as Bird’s foot trefoil, Red clover and Greater knapweed are perfect for pollinators. Bees, flies, wasps, moths and butterflies are just some of the creatures you might find in your mini meadow. Click on the images for more information on how to grow your own mini-meadow and how to create a community meadow.
Make a deadwood pile. Many insects, including pollinating beetles, need deadwood to survive. Create a safe haven for them by simply piling few logs up in your garden. Put a pile in the shade and another in the sun and you'll find different species under each! Click on the image for more information.