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 (RHS) has helped us look beyond summer favourites 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, March’s plant is the Lungwort (Pulmonaria).
Funnel-shaped white, pink or blue flowers od this shade-tolerant groundcover perennial, with silver-speckled leaves, provide an early spring boost to pollinators. Hairy-footed flower bees (Anthophora plumipes) can be early visitors: gingery males from mid-February; black hairy females emerge a few weeks later.
These fascinating bees get their name because of the males, who sport long hairs on their feet, which are used to stroke the female during mating.
You may also spot the early bumblebee (Bombus pratorum) visiting the blooms – it’s one of the first bumblebees to produce workers.
Others to try include:
• Primrose (Primula vulgaris)
• Flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum)
• Helleborus x hybridus
• Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) – a perennial best tolerated as it’s an important source of early nectar.