One of the sad facts of our current state of development is that our bumblebees and bees are disappearing. Bumblebees are such funny insects that hover peacefully around any flower they find, it would be a shame to lose such a lovely visitor. We can do so much to provide them with a feeding ground and help by even creating a home for them.
For a number of reasons we have lost many of what used to be a staple pollinator and insect in our gardens. Some studies have shown that it is because our farming techniques have changed so drastically to remove any weed which used to be the bumblebee’s food. Other studies show that the huge reduction of open landscapes with meadows and flowers in abundance has left the bumblebee with nowhere to go, while in truth it is probably a mix of several things. Habitat loss, signal interference, illness spreading from commercial honey bees and the fact that people do not plant the “good old” flowers anymore. We like our flowers to be pretty and long lasting, meaning that most of us likely chose flowers that are sterile with no nectar or pollen. In our little garden I have made a conscious effort in trying to plant flowers that the bumblebees love, and I would also love if you could do the same.
Here are some of the plants that feed and keep the lovely bumblebee and bees in your garden.
This used to be a herb that was used extensively both in medicine and in improving the soil of gardens. We have two of these plants in our garden and the bumblebees flock around them every single day. If you can only chose one flower on the list this should be the one. What is great about this plant is that it has very deep roots and does not interfere with crops or other flowers, and it is known as a plant that digs deep into the ground to bring up nutrients for the plants around it. Monks used to make paste out of the leaves of comfrey to heal bruises, wounds and contusions. It is not recommended that you use this while pregnant or for internal use though.
Also known as the honey plant or scorpion flower. This flower is an incredible source of nectar for all types of pollinators. It looks a bit like a weed until it flowers but boy does it put on a lovely purple show. We try to use this plant as a filler in any open space we have as it is very undemanding as long as it has some sun and water. This plant grows readily from seed.
Many people still grow dahlias, but the modern dahlia is what is called a show variety where there is very little or no pollen due to the fact that the flower is totally covered in petals. We like to grow dahlias that are open with a nice, daisy like yellow centre. The bees and bumblebees absolutely love this as they need a lot of pollen for building their hives and to feed on.
This is probably the most common type of flower in this list, but extremely popular with the bumblebees nonetheless. You can get varieties that flower from May and on, and we have three types in our garden. They also add a lovely scent to any space and can be used to freshen up your wardrobe or in incenses.
Probably not the most showy of the plants you could have, but has the advantage of being a spike full of little flowers that open gradually. This makes the access to nectar and pollen continuous for any pollinators.
Help a bumblebee find a home
In the early parts of the year when you see or hear a bumblebee it is most likely a queen that is on the lookout for a place to live. It is crucial that these noble females (yay!) find a place to build their nest quickly as they do not have very long to live before they run out of energy. You can help the bumblebee. Do this by installing some nice little homes in your garden. We currently have a bumblebee colony living in a home that we bought of this type:
Whatever you have in your garden, please take some time to think of how you can make it more bee and bumblebee friendly. They will thank you plenty by giving you that all important buzzing sound throughout the summer. Follow the above and you will be guaranteed to get bumblebees and bees into your garden.