Did you know that honey produced by honey bees has a different flavour depending on what plants the bees get their pollen from.
One of the most important insects in any garden, whether ornamental, productive or a mix, is the common honey bee. They pollinate a wide variety of plants, ensuring fruit and seed production as well as plant diversity (in future generations). They can also provide food and other useable products for humans in the form of honey and beeswax.
Honey bees are under threat in many countries, however and scientists don't yet have a clear idea of what the problem is so now more than ever it is important for home gardeners to attract these valuable insects to their gardens.
The key to attracting bees to your garden lies in planting a range of flowering plants. Bees need pollen in order to make honey and so they will seek out flowers that are a good source of pollen. Here is a list of just some plants that are particularly attractive to bees:
- Bee balm
There are other things you can do to attract bees to your garden too. You may like to provide a hive for them to nest in though this isn't necessary. Including a small pond in your garden also helps attract and keep bees as they use the mud to build their nests.
Honey bees aren't the only kind of bee that can pollinate your plants. There are many other kinds of bees and some of them may be native to your area. Many native bees also don't sting so can be a great alternative to honey bees if you or someone in your family (or even a friend who regularly visits your garden) is allergic to honey bee stings. Native bees in many areas are under threat due to habitat loss so this is just another reason why attracting them to your garden can be a really good thing.
Native bees are attracted by different plants depending on the species - many of these plants will be native to your area but some exotic species can also attract native bees. If you would like to attract native bees to your area, find out which bees are native to that area and what flowers attract them. You might also consider building nests for them to move into - again the type of nest will depend on which species of bee you want to encourage.
In the meantime, planting species that are native to your area is a good way to attract a variety of native insects and other native fauna so don't feel you have to do a lot of research before buying native plants because they're bound to be useful to a range of native fauna. Remember that plants that are native to your country might not be native to your specific area and they can actually be weeds in some areas of the country so it's a good idea to check that the species you're interested in is actually native to your area and not just your country.