Here on our farm and vineyards, we are proud to have our own hives, tended to by our devoted bee keeper Phillip. Bees are crucial for pollinating our crops, pastures & hedgerows, sustaining our local ecosystem & biodiversity and helping the land around us flourish.… not to mention, 1/3 of the world’s food production and 90% of our wild crops depends on bees and pollination. They are a vital part of our world and are facing an alarming decline – the prospect of a world without them is terrifying.
There are plenty of ways to support bees and other important pollinators from your own garden, here are a few of our top tips...
Planting a bee friendly garden is something anyone can do and provides vital nectar and pollen for our pollinators.
In order to best support different pollinators throughout the different seasons, it is important to plant a range of flowers in your garden, so that bees have access to nectar from March to October. To support pollinators for the whole year, aim to have at least two nectar or pollen-rich plants in flower during winter. Plants like winter honeysuckle and winter clematis are perfect for the job.
For small areas, try herbs and aromatic plants such as; basil, thyme, sage and lemon balm – not only are these perfect for pollinators, but make great additions to your cooking – with zero food miles!
When it comes to flowers, bees love blue and violet the best, from fragrant lavender to buddleia (the butterfly bush)… be sure to choose a sunny spot when planting to encourage nectar rich flowers and attract bees & butterflies. For long-tongued bees, such as the garden bumble bee, Tubular-shaped flowers, such as foxgloves, are brilliant for long-tongued bees like the garden bumble bee. Be sure to leave plenty of space around your foxglove when planting as they produce seeds and new seedlings will grow.
Trees and shrubs produce much higher quantities of pollen and nectar; making them perfect for larger areas; from wild cherry & crab apple trees to rose bushes.
Here on the farm, it’s not just our wildflowers, sunflowers & trees that are great for our pollinators; the also love crops such as clover and veggies like pumpkins & cucumber!
Did you know that, with the exception of honeybees, most bees are solitary creatures? 70% of solitary bees live underground, while 30% live in holes inside of trees or hollow stems. You can create your own nest box at home using the following steps...
1) Choose a nesting material: You can make a nest box for bees out of wood or hollow plant stalks (such as bamboo or cane). Or you can use a combination of both.
2) Drill the wood: To attract various species, drill holes of different dimensions, i.e. with a diameter of 4–10 mm and a depth of up to 10 cm. If using bamboo or cane, make your nest box by cutting stalks at least 10 cm in length.
3) Construct the nest box: Assemble the wood pieces to create the desired shape, putting the holes on the outside of the box so the bees can enter. A nest box can take the shape of a little house or shapes such as a circle. We would suggest adding a roof to protect it from rain!
4) Put up the nest box: It is best to put the nest box up in spring, when the greatest number of species is most active. We should place or hang it in a warm, sunny spot, protected from rain (windowsill, garden shed, terrace, balcony etc.). The optimal height is one to two metres above the ground; the nest can also be placed higher up (for example on a balcony), but fewer bees will probably use it.
5) Attract bees with nectar plants: Use the recommendations above to create a vivid floral and the bees will check into your hotel themselves. The first year their numbers may be small, but should increase over time. Solitary bees are wild animals and, apart from a safe nest, do not require any special attention given a suitable habitat.
Bees work up quite a thirst foraging and collecting nectar – when the sun is shining you will always see them having a drink from the pond on our Nature Trail.
To create a bee bath at home, fill a shallow bird bath or bowl with clean water, and arrange pebbles and stones inside so that they break the water’s surface. Bees will land on the stones and pebbles to take a long, refreshing drink.
Come and join us and pick our Sunflowers for Charity!
Have a day of farm fun with our Maize Maze!