How to create some honeybee hotspots this summer when the bees have their greatest food supply
Honey bees are natural wonders. You can see them buzz from flower to flower at this time of year – but that’s only a pollination stop as honey bees can travel three miles in one trip. In fact, a colony of around 60,000 bees will travel the same distance from the earth to the moon every day!
Honey bees, in turn, are responsible for pollinating a third of the fruits and vegetables we consume and producing honey – with different flowers producing different flavors. In their lifetime, 12 honey bees will produce one teaspoon of honey – their collective impact on the environment and food production should not be underestimated.
Unfortunately, the UK honeybees are in decline over the long term. Rowse, the UK’s most popular honey brand, is passionate about making positive change through Hives for Lives – a program of key initiatives that protect bees and improve livelihoods through beekeeping.
The good news is that we can all play an important role in protecting and saving this incredible species. Planting certain seasonal flowers is bee-friendly and you will enjoy a “bee-rich” garden as a result! Plantlife’s Every Flower Counts survey found that even if you let your lawn grow a little longer, it can produce enough nectar for ten times more bees and other pollinators. Watching your flora bloom and bees enjoying pollination is very rewarding – especially when our buzzing friends are short of food in the summer.
Here are five bee-friendly flowers to plant that are perfect for this time of year and create a haven for these vital pollinators:
The scent of lavender is as beautiful as its pretty purple flowers. This plant can live for years and do best when planted in a sunny spot, especially June and July. With lots of flowers and a high nectar content, our lively friends have to set off. This plant is also popular with other pollinators. Bumblebees spend 1 to 1.14 seconds per lavender flower, while honeybees enjoy their pollen for 3.5 seconds.
Top tip – from the bee to you: Lavender can also aid sleep as its distinctive scent is believed to help evoke feelings of calm.
Borage can be annual or perennial depending on the variety and grows quickly from seeds. This plant will also re-seeds itself, so it can be easily grown over the next year by growing the seedlings, or they can be transplanted. Borage is a hotspot for honeybees as its flowers often replenish nectar. Hence, our buzzing friends can come back to the feed often. Because of this, borage also attracts other insects such as butterflies.
Top tip: The beautiful blue flowers that bloom on borage are the perfect addition to a summer cocktail or cocktail. Young borage leaves also add texture to salads.
Marjoram has pretty pink white flowers that look lovely in a garden. It’s great for attracting a whole range of little visitors to nature, from honeybees to bumblebees to butterflies and hoverflies. It blooms in summer when the bee food is most stretched and is also easy to grow.
Top tip: Marjoram belongs to the same family as oregano and therefore tastes great on a pizza, with roasted meat or in soups! Marjoram tea, which is made from dried herbs, hot water and honey, is also popular.
Helianthus – also known as sunflowers – bloom for several months from August all year round. This towering plant makes a real statement in the garden and is sure to grab a honeybee’s attention! Its bright yellow petals also attract bumblebees, butterflies, and hoverflies to the hundreds of tiny tubular flowers in the center of the bloom. This center is full of nectar, which is the main source of carbohydrates for our lively friends, as well as fluffy proteinaceous pollen that builds up on their bodies. Sunflowers are also considered “low-infection” flowers. Their pollen has a medicinal and protective effect on the bees and helps improve the health of the bee colonies.
Top tip: Sunflowers are easy to grow and can grow up to two meters tall! Why not challenge your family to a fun competition to see who can become the greatest?
This delicate British wildflower, belonging to the daisy family, can be planted in grass beds or flower beds. Fleabane produces a mass of beautiful white flowers, which can be purple or yellow in color, with a sunny center that seduces honeybees, bumblebees, flies and butterflies. Fleabane is a perennial that thrives from late spring through fall. It is an oasis for honeybees in cooler times of the year when the flowers are sparse.
Top tip: This low-maintenance plant is ideal for filling in bald spots under bushes and trees.