There are a variety of different types of bee that we’ll be familiar with seeing. Some of them will be social bees, like the honey-bee or bumblebee. These social bees live in large groups, usually in hives. The honey bee is perhaps the most social, and can live in colonies made up of tens of thousands of individual bees. Bumblebees tend to be in smaller group of around 100.
The other type of bees are called solitary. These bees will likely find a home burrowed underground, or in old dead wood or brickwork. The queen will lay and look after her own eggs, as opposed to relying on worker bees like her more social relatives.
You may also see wasps, solitary wasps and a range of flies related closely to the bee and wasp family. Hoverflies and bee flies for example, will be a familiar sight to many people. These can often cause concern, as they mimic wasps and bees, but are actually perfectly harmless insects without a painful sting!
Solitary wasps and the hoverfly, amongst others, are parasites, and will help keep other less welcome pest insects down.
All of these bees, wasps and flies are fantastic pollinators and will benefit from clever bee-friendly planting. If we can give them a diverse range of flowering plants, throughout the season, we can cater for their varying flight periods and provide food for them all.
Making sure our gardens are stocked up with pollen covered, nectar-rich flowers is one of the best things we can do to help. Single petal flowers are often best, as they often provide more nectar. A range of colours and shapes are also important, to make sure every type of bee is attracted and can access the delicious nectar inside. It also goes without saying, that avoiding the use of pesticides is very important.
For solitary bees, bug hotels and wildlife stacks will provide a great place for them to live, lay their eggs and hibernate. Leaving natural homes for them, such as piles of dead wood and cut branches and plants, can also be very helpful.
Areas of south-facing bare earth can be good as well, to provide a place to bask, and for some, a spot to burrow and nest.
For help and advice for Planting for Pollinators please contact us.
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