We are getting so much better at letting people know how to support bees.
Best tips are:
1. Plant for bees where you can – look our for bee friendly labels or use lists like that from the RHS
2. Avoid pesticides – there are still those who are not sure but too many indications that these don’t help.
3. Have a water source – with strategies to reduce the chance bees drown.
4. Buy local honey whenever you can – avoid blended / imported honey being made accessible to our own bees by leaving open jars / empty jars with some honey dregs where bees can eat the honey.
5. Find your local swarm collector so any swarm you spot can be rehomed – in the UK that is usually your local Bee Keepers Association and you can find them from the BBKA
As far as planting for bees is concerned, single flowered plants and trees are best and a variety is most likely to provide nutrition whatever the weather for the maximum time. HOWEVER don’t forget that wild flowers and plants we may consider weeds contribute a great deal and that hedges often contain the variety of native species we need and make a haven for other wildlife as well as bees. Their roots are often provide undisturbed shelter for wildlife and plants.
When we first moved into our lane, my elderly neighbour seemed scandalised by another who took up a hedge and replaced it with a fence. Since then others have replaced mixed hedges with brick walls. I hate to admit I thought her reaction was a little extreme a few years ago but now the loss of each hedgerow is more like a bereavement. It is said that if you look for species in a natural hedgerow each one implies a century of existence of that hedge. The woodland at the end of our road is certainly ‘ancient woodland’ – and I have been told it was the very wood that inspired J M Barrie for his play called Dear Brutus. Our own front hedge has hawthorn, beech, holly, horse chestnut. It also has beautiful wild honeysuckle meandering through and the sort of wildflowers that bring to mind some Shakespeare words from Midsummer Nights Dream. Would he find the same inspiration these days? Isn’t losing these hedges and wild banks as much a crime as ruining our buildings?
I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
NB woodbine = honeysuckle I believe