Before you start planning your garden and making it more attractive to pollinators ask yourself the most important question “Which pollinator do we want to attract?” Each of the pollinators will be attracted to different types of flowers and habitats. At the nursery we focus on four different types of pollinators and below you will find a quick guide for each one.
Short Tongued Bees
Sometimes these bees can be confused for wasps as they have slim bodies they include bees from the Hylaeus, Colletes, and Adrena species, in the UK the most prevalent is the Apis mellifera or Western Honey Bee. These bees need flowers that they land and have an open habit making it easy to reach the nectar with their short tongues. Honey bee colonies will normally consist of around 30,000 – 60,000 bees. The females do all the work! Males are used for mating. It takes around 556 bees to gather 1lb of honey to planting the right plants is essential. Plenty of flowering herbs and lots of daisy-like flowers will keep the honey bees happy. Planting in bold drifts rather than dotting plants around the garden will also attract more of these bees. Honey bees need food from when it warms up in Spring right through to early Winter so think of planting in succession so there are always plants to tempt them to your garden.
Long Tongued Bees
These are the bees we are most familiar with. They include bees from the Bombus, Megachilidae & Hymenoptera species. We know some of them as Bumble bees, Leaf cutter bees, and Solitary bees. These been can access hard to reach nectar and pollen as their tongues can reach up to 12mm. They don’t need to land on flowers and can instead hover at the flower and reach their tongue into the flower. Their bodies tend to much bigger.
When trying to encourage them to your garden think of two small things that will make a big difference. These bees love the cover. Bees need a break from the sun and heat, too. Planting ground cover can give them a place to hide out between feedings and flying. Try to have plants such as pulmonaria, ajuga, aubretia prostrate rosemary, and oregano which have low growing habits.
We are lucky to have 56 different varieties in the UK and Ireland. They are a fundamentally important part of the ecosystem. Where you find lots of butterflies you find lots of invertebrates. They have fascinating life cycles and one of the best ways to teach children from a young age about the natural world. A well-planned garden will attract around 20 species of butterflies. Again, planting in blocks of bold drifts will bring more of them into the garden and they don’t like to move around the garden to find food. Spring flowers are vital for the butterflies coming out of hibernation and Autumnal flowers help them build up their reserves for winter. Also, think about a fruit table which can be a bird table laid out with cut fruit of those spoiled apples and pears that you won’t use. The red admirals and painted ladies will especially thank you.
Not all moths are small, brown, and ugly and eat clothes. In fact, without these night-flying insects, we could lose plants such as jasmine and wallflower who pump out their perfume at night time to be pollinated. Bees and butterflies are not around then. In addition to this vital role, they are also a vital food source especially for blue tits whose favourite snack is a moth caterpillar!