Brian Kidd: To bee or not to bee? I've got loads of them

If you grow the right plants bees will arrives in hordes

Saturday, 16th July 2016, 6:15 am
A bee enjoying itself on buddleia

When plums were in flower the weather was cold but dry. There were few bees around and the crop will be poor at the allotment.

The bees are now bountiful and I keep hearing people say there are none around.

Where are all these so-called green people. Are they on this planet?

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Do they grow the right flowers and vegetables or do they live in posh suburbia?

Did you know there are about 60,000 domestic bees in one hive at this time of year? Our garden is full of them and hoverflies and a lot of butterflies of which I don’t know the name.

There are few weeds in the garden because we pull them out every day and the only wild flowers in the garden are orchids and they arrived by magic. I think the answer lies in the cultivated plants we grow.

Single flowers have the most pollen. All the daisy-like flowers are a good example. Bees are also very fond of hebe, an evergreen shrub we love.

When I was an apprentice hebes died every seven years, but it seems they have either got hardier or the winters have got warmer. It’s amazing because last winter was one of the wettest we had. I am comparing it to 1962 when the trees in Reading IPRA college froze. As students we had to fell dead trees to feed the boiler so we could keep warm. Yes, the hebes died that year.

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

All the so-called experts tell us that buddleia attract butterflies. If you don’t have room for a buddleia, try lavender. There are dozens of bees on the flowers as I write and when we went to the garden centre on Friday, I counted 35

bees on a batch of plants which were in full bloom.

Single flowers in bloom right now? Take a look at cosmea.

This single-flowering plant is a sheer delight and is available at all good garden centres. It blooms all through the summer and Keydell nurseries at Horndean have hundreds of them.

After planting cosmea the wonderful bees and butterflies will arrive. If you would like butterflies to come back again for another delectable treat of pollen and nectar, plant a clump of golden rod. It’s­ a common plant but our garden

would not be the same without it.

I have been impressed with campanula Anna Lodden. This amazing plant is full of flowers and attracts dozens of bees.

Meanwhile, on an allotment near mine, there are hundreds of butteries and hoverflies on a lovely swathe of Californian poppies.

Take a look at your runner beans. Are the beans forming? Yes!

Why? Because of bees. Perhaps you were in bed before they came into the garden...


If your water butt is empty now’s the time to clean it out.

Put a piece of nylon stocking over the end of the down pipe to prevent debris entering.

Cover the top of the butt to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs on the surface of the water.