THE MODERN MINT BLOG
Last Thursday night I was invited to give a talk ‘Planting for Pollinators’ at Harlow Bees, a beekeeping group who help promote the craft of keeping bees in Harlow.
It was an interesting evening exploring how two complementary crafts – beekeeping and gardening – co-exist in there similar aims of helping bees (and other pollinators.)
Below are some notes answering questions the group asked me from the talk:
1. The Best Plants For Bees
This research comes from the work done by Rosi Rollings at Rosybee. She has been asking the question ‘which bee-friendly plants attract the most bees?’
You can read why and how she set-up this work in this interview we made with her a few years ago.
2. This is what Helenium, the most valuable plant for bees, looks like…
It is easy to grow, makes a great cut flower and is beautiful too. Get it into your gardens!
3. Remember the following when choosing flowers for the garden…
Right plant, right place – a happy, healthy plant growing in conditions it enjoys will provide preferred forage for the bees.
Plant in blocks of flowers, so that bees don’t waste energy trying to find another nectar/pollen source.
Get some blossoming trees into your gardener early in the year.
Topiary is easier to look after – a plant like Escallonia is great for clipping but also a bee magnet, so can be left uncut (and so full of flowers) until it grows too large for your garden… then you can easily reduce it down to size and let it start growing again, year on year.
4. Using Pesticides, Herbicides or Insecticides will harm your bees
If your garden flowers are suffering from pest damage, plant trees. These will provide somewhere for birds to visit, who in turn will deal with the bug problem.
No flower is too important or special it needs to be sprayed with a poison to make it look better. Plus, the best flowers for bees normally don’t show the art of the plant breeder – note the Helenium above!
5. Plant organic bulbs
You can read all about that in this blog Organic Bulbs.
We will make an order for Bee Friendly Bulbs in the summer, so will let you know then if you want to buy some!
If you live in and around Harlow and want to know more about bees and beekeeping – why not get in touch with the group?
As organic gardeners we thought you may be interested to know where you can buy organically grown, bee-friendly bulbs here in the UK. The list is short, sadly, but we hope that in the future EVERYONE is stocking them each Autumn. Modern Mint – Help The Honeybee Organic Catalogue have a good range – Autumn Bulbs Crocus stock a few – Organic Bulbs For further reading on why you should plant organic bulbs, see this piece in the Telegraph by Modern Mint favourite John Walker, The Earth Friendly Gardener.
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Sally Nex is a writer at The Garden magazine, the Guardian, Grow Your Own magazine as well as teaching at the online My Gardening School. We met her via Twitter and through emails a few years ago – and she is lovely. Her writing too is always interesting, worth a read. Sally gardens in Somerset, on an acre of land, where she says she battles the brambles and also looks after chickens and a flock of Dorset Down rare breed sheep. And now she has a new book coming out, based on Growing Your Own for Self Sufficiency. Published by …