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What are your top tips for attracting more bees to your garden this summer?

Our British bees need all the help they can get at the moment. One of the main things you can do is to provide a continuous source of food for the bees all year round to avoid the bees going hungry, so choose a range of plants that flower at different times of the year, most importantly from March to late October. The more diverse the flowers for bees you have the more interesting they will find your garden. Plant flowers close together and in the sun rather than shade.

Organic is always best when attracting insects so avoid using insecticides especially when flowers are starting to shed their petals. Instead, use natural pest control by encouraging friendly bugs like ladybirds and hoverflies whose larvae will feed on aphids. Flowers such as Limnanthes douglasii 'Poached Eggs' are excellent at attracting hoverflies and also a favourite amongst bees with their yellow and white flowers. As bees like lots of different heights to fly to, Poached Eggs are a great low level choice as they’ll spread like carpet.

Generally speaking native flowers are best as native bees will be familiar with them and recognise which ones have the most pollen and nectar. Most herbs provide great flowers for bees such as thyme, oregano and borage. Borage in particular is an excellent source of nectar so will always be covered in bees, putting it in between your tomato plants will ensure a great crop. For fruit and vegetable enthusiasts, flowers on alliums such as onions, chives etc are very attractive to bees. Cherry, pear and apple trees all grow great flowers for bees before they produce their fruit.

Bees can see a wider spectrum of colours than humans so certain flowers which may look all one colour to us, such as Evening Primrose, are actually two toned and provide bees with an excellent aid to landing. Evening Primrose is also highly scented making it an especially appealing flower for bees.

As mentioned you’ll need to provide flowers for bees from March through to late October. Below is a list of plants attractive to bees and when you can expect them to flower;

March to April

Rosemary, Harebell, Ribes Sanguineum Koja- Flowering Currant, Pear Trees, Plum Trees, Apple Trees, Cherry Trees, Lungwort.

May to June

Foxgloves, Poppies, Alliums, Runner Beans Scarlet Emperor, Poached Eggs, Raspberries, Campanula, Wisteria, Honeysuckle, Thyme, Genista Lydia- Lydian Broom, Cytisus Lena- Broom Lena, Borage, Evening Primrose.

July to October

Lavender, Borage, Helenium 'Sahin's Early Flowerer' Sneeze Weed, Achillea Summer Berries, Monarda 'Cambridge Scarlet' Bergamot, Origanum vulgare, Evening Primrose.

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