Bugs and Bees

ladybird

My allotment plot and garden welcome many species of beneficial wildlife, such as hoverflies, lacewings, bees, ladybirds, butterflies (yes, butterflies are very welcome on my plot!) and lovely little mason bees. I grow plenty of flowers throughout the year to attract them, and my organic approach to gardening ensures there will always be food in the form of juicy aphids.

ladybird in a bug box

Providing bee and bug boxes in your garden helps to attract the good guys too, these safe hidey places are essential for surviving cold winters and reproduction with certain species.

bee on salvia flower

Lacewing

Mason bees visit my plot to use the bee boxes as nests to reproduce, I find it fascinating to watch females carrying mud to seal the entrance to a nesting tube. In turn, they pollinate my fruit bushes and most probably my plot neighbours too.

Comma butterfly

Some of my boxes were purchased or gifted, and some were made using scraps of wood nailed together to form a box and filled with hollowed out bamboo canes. Online gardening shops and garden centres sell bee or bug boxes, I recently picked up a couple of nice examples from Waitrose and Poundstretcher stores.

bee and bug box

I re-painted the Waitrose bee box (pictured above right) using a tester pot by Cuprinol Garden Shades (country cream).

bee and bug boxes collage

I’m planning to make a bug ‘hotel’ using stacked pallets and other materials inserted into the gaps between each pallet. Now is a great time to provide some shelter for our helpful beasties, they’ll repay your favour by munching on the bugs you really don’t want on your veg. And, if you’re really lucky, you might just see mason bees nesting in your boxes from late April onwards.

Food for Bees and Pollinators

I can feel spring approaching, I have a warm fuzzy feeling inside just thinking about it. As I begin to open veg seed packets to sow my first crops of the year, I drift away into my own little world inside the greenhouse. My thoughts turn to warm summer days rolling into hazy golden-lit evenings, sharing food and wine with friends as I watch lazy bumble bees collecting nectar while butterflies dance overhead. I cannot imagine a garden without these necessary visitors, I wouldn’t want to either.

When you begin to sow your veg seeds why not sow some food for the bees too? Perhaps you’re already planning to plant or sow pollinator friendly plants this year, if you already include plants in your garden for our pollinators but are looking for extra year round attraction, take a look at this helpful list of trees and plants: http://www.rhs.org.uk/Gardening/Sustainable-gardening/pdfs/RHS_Pollinators_PlantList

Go on, sow, plant and grow food for the bees and pollinators, you’ll be doing them a good deed and in return they’ll reward you with excellent yields from your fruit and veg garden. Not only that, your garden will be a hive of activity – a beautiful haven bursting with wildlife and year round interest.