Bees' Needs

Bees' Needs

It has been Bees' Needs week recently - but what does that mean?

The campaign aims to make people aware that bees pollinate wild, agricultural and garden plants and contribute to biodiversity. We need them to pollinate our crops and provide variety in our diets.

 Bees' needs include:

  • food in the form of pollen or nectar
  • habitats for shelter, nest building and breeding
  • us to grow as wide a range of plants as possible that produce pollen and nectar resources
  • the flowering season of pollinating plants to be as long as possible

The number of insect pollinators is highest in the summer coinciding with peak plant growth and supplies of nectar and pollen.

There are approximately 1500 species of insect pollinators in the UK including bumble bees, honey bee, solitary bees, hoverflies, wasps, flies, beetles, butterflies and moths.

Your pond plants can contribute to the list of pollinating plants for bees and other insects and you can attract many pollinators to the water habitat, especially at this time of year.

The plants from the RHS Perfect for Pollinators lists that grow in water, wet or damp soils has 43 plant species listed. See photos of many of these here. Subspecies and cultivars of these plants also fulfill bees' needs but plants with double or multi-petalled flowers are excluded.

By choosing plants from this list with a range of seasonal flowers you can encourage insect pollinators of many different species to visit your garden.We need to think about the Bees' needs if we are to plan and help them survive and flourish.

Pollinating insects require:

  • some flowers high in nectar
  • some high in pollen
  • different flower shapes
  • different flowering times
  • water for drinking

Some pollinating insects have long tongues and some short tongues eg Bumble bees with short tongues love Pontederia species for a late season feast.

Butterflies and other pollinators love Mentha cervina and Lythrum salicaria at this time of year.

Waterlily flowers are also valuable for many pollinating insects.

The Butomus umbellatus photos below show 4 different types of insect pollinators using its flowers.

For more illustrations of pollinator friendly pond and bog plants: Visit Insect pollinators in our Tips and Advice pages.