GARDENING FOR BEES:
Plant the right flower species in combinations that will provide sources of nectar and pollen through the bees’ active foraging season from January to the end of October. Use the PBKA handy checklist ‘Bee Plant Wizzzze’ to see which plants you already have and what else you might grow.
Try to ensure at least two different plant species are in flower at any time throughout this period to prevent the bees from going hungry.
Avoid double flower forms which are often lacking in pollen or nectar and likely to be inaccessible to bees.
When planting or sowing, note honeybees visit clumps or expanses of flowers rather than solitary blooms as this is more energy efficient for them.
Be a ‘hands off’ gardener:
- Leave plants and weeds until they stop flowering before pulling them up.
- Reduce the frequency of lawn mowing to allow white clover to flower, cutting it down once the flower heads have turned brown. It will re-grow to provide a second or third flowering and is a rich source of nectar.
- Set aside an area of the garden or provide a window box for your children to create a ‘bee garden’ of their own. Wildflower mixes which are good for pollinators can be an interesting start.
I SPY Bee Friendly Plants : Ask your children to help you assess the extent to which the flowers in your garden are ‘bee friendly’. Find 10 different flowers in bloom. Make a label A- J on a stick to place beside each flower. Ask the children to use the I SPY sheet to decide whether the flowers are ‘bee friendly’.
Designing the perfect flower for a bee: This creative activity will give children hours of fun! When they have made the flower it can be attached to a garden cane and displayed in a vase or ‘planted’ into a styro foam block in a plant pot. Several, placed side by side in a long plant container will create their own imaginary ‘bee garden’.
Children need to understand how the bee collects pollen from the flowers and how this helps the plant to create their seeds. Refer to this information sheet produced for children by the British Beekeepers Association.
(Visit www.bbka.org.uk for information about how to obtain copies of the current version of the ‘Bees in the Curriculum’ Schools Resource Pack)