This year we are asking our followers to ensure their gardens can help bee populations thrive – encouraging both diverse plant life and a variety of bee species to visit. With 25 species of bumblebees and more than 250 species of solitary bees, there are many worthing bees that can be encouraged into your garden if you choose your plants carefully.
The Royal Horticultural Society has helped us look beyond summer favorites such as lavender and borage. Longer autumns and milder winters mean that bees such as the buff-tailed bumblebee can be active all year round. They need garden plants to help them through.
So, without further ado, January’s plant is Winter Heath (Erica Carmea ‘Myretoun Ruby’ agm).
While heathers are best grown in acidic soils, heaths are more tolerant of neutral conditions. This is welcome news for gardeners wanting both colour and bee-friendly flowers in the depths of winter.
Reaching just 15cm high, this winter-flowering shrub likes a sunny spot where it can slowly spread out. Small bell-shaped flowers hang from evergreen shoots, and nectar is produced in nectaries down in the deepest parts of the flower.
Honey bees are particular fans of heathers and heaths and the magenta flowered gem provides a worthwhile reward for intrepid workers active during mild spells this month.
Others to try include:
• Winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis agm)
• Clamatis cirrhosa
• viburnum tinus
• Hazel (Corylus avellana) – worked by bees for pollen only