I POPPED into my local garden centre earlier this week and, while looking for pond netting, I passed rows of bedding plants and plants for borders and patios.
It got me thinking about pollination and what we need to do to encourage our honey bees and also the other plant pollinators such as bumble bees, butterflies and hover flies.
The recent BBC series Bees, Butterflies and Blooms showed us how brilliant planting for bees can be and gave some invaluable advice on creating a bee garden.
Life in the hive is gradually speeding up with the occasional warmer days encouraging the bees to leave in search of pollen.
Pollen equals protein and protein is what bees need to develop.
Stored pollen in the hive mixed with their honey is called bee bread and the worker bees (all girls by the way) use this to feed larvae and it is also the food for newly-emerged bees.
Bees are discerning about which pollen they will collect and they will avoid some plants that just aren’t nutritious enough.
If you would like to plant for bees and other pollinators then the following are planting hints for your garden. Please plant a patch rather than individual plants.
An easy start is to let a patch of grass grow longer and seed some wild flowers and perhaps add into this some white clover (bees don’t get any goodness from pink clover).
For your patios and containers, a good selection of herbs such as sage, chives and cat mint is a good idea. All summer my bees visited the rosemary and lavender bushes on our patio.
At this time of the year, early spring, the bees will be very grateful for crocuses, flowering currant, hyacinths and broom.
If you are planning some tree planting or even filling the gaps in your hedges, do consider willow, hazel (you might get a red squirrel or two in the autumn), hawthorn and blackthorn and all fruit trees, but particularly plum, apple and pear are great.
And don’t hurry to pull up all those weeds. Dandelions are really good for our bees, even if you just leave a small patch for them, they’ll thank you for it.
If you are involved in your village’s in bloom competitions then please spare a thought for the pollinators and plant some must-have bee flowers alongside the bedding plants and double-headed beauties – or, dare I say, instead of.
A full list of planting for pollinators can be found at the Alnwick Beekeepers’ website www.bbka.org.uk/local/alnwick/
Why not visit the Alnwick Spring Show on Saturday, April 14, and Sunday, April 15, and come and say hello to Alnwick Beekeepers at Willowburn Leisure Centre.