Bees' Needs

Bees' Needs

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

Making people aware of Bees' Needs is an important campaign message. Bees pollinate wild and garden plants and contribute to biodiversity. By pollinating crops they provide variety in our diets.

Most pollinating insects require food in the form of pollen and nectar, and need a home for shelter and nest building. 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.

The campaign message is to select and grow as wide a range of plants as possible that produce pollen and nectar resources throughout all the seasons of the year in your garden and to provide suitable breeding and nesting habitats.

Your pond plants can contribute to this 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. Include some flowers high in nectar and some high in pollen and add different types of flower as some pollinating insects have long tongues and some short tongues eg Bumble bees with short tongues love Pontederia species for a late season feast before Winter whilst butterflies and other pollinators love Mentha cervina and Lythrum salicaria at this time of year. Waterlily flowers also contribute for 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.