A scarcity of bees? Piffle – just select right plants

Bees love lavender.
Bees love lavender.
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I have been picking raspberries every day for the past three weeks . The variety is Polka and even this morning the flowers were buzzing with honey and humble bees. Yet I hear there is a shortage of bees. So why is it I have to be careful when picking runner beans? The flowers are attractive to bees and I must be careful not to get stung.

Where are all these so-called green people who tell us there are no bees; are they on this planet? Do they grow the right flowers and vegetables or do they live in posh suburbia?

I can’t understand this. Our garden is full of bees, hoverflies and a lot of butterflies for which I don’t know the name.

I think the answer lies in the plants we grow.

Single flowers such as helenium, penstemmon; single dahlias, nerines, kaffir lilies, aster King George and rudbeckia, all of which are in flower right now, have the most pollen.

The bees are fond of hebe, an evergreen shrub we love.

When I was an apprentice, hebes died every seven years. It seems they have either got hardier or the winters warmer.

It’s amazing because last winter was one of the wettest ever. I compare it to 1962 when the trees in Reading IPRA college froze. As students we had to fell dead trees to feed the boiler to keep warm. The hebes died that year.

Here at Waterlooville the hebes survived and there are loads of bees on all the flowers.

All the ‘experts’ tell us buddleia attracts butterflies. If you don’t have room for a one or perhaps don’t like it, try some lavender.

Last July I counted 35 bees on three plants in full bloom. Marvellous. They were all happy. It was hot and the perfume just wonderful.

Single flowers in bloom right now? Have a look at cosmea. This single flowering plant is a delight. It blooms all through summer. After planting cosmea the bees and butterflies will arrive.

If you would like butterflies to return for another pollen and nectar treat next year, plant a clump of golden rod – a common plant, but our garden would not be the same without it.

I have been impressed with campanula Anna Lodden. This plant, full of flowers in July and August, was cut back hard as soon as the main branches of dead flowers were pruned and after a good soaking of Maxicrop Complete feed, good old Anna is full of flowers this morning and covered with bees.

Perhaps the green brigade were in bed before the wonderful bees flew into the garden?


If you want to grow plants in pots on an outside windowsill for spring, try miniature bulbs. Shallow clay pots are best as they are less likely to fall over in the wind. Go for chionodoxa, scilla, dwarf tulips and dwarf narcissus.