Posted 3rd Aug 2016
New research that has been carried out by Wickes has revealed that as many as 81 per cent of us would like to create an area of their garden that attracts wildlife - with more than half wanting to create a bee hotel
Home improvement chain Wickes has teamed up with Guardian columnist and former presenter on BBC's Gardener's World, Alys Fowler, to help make your garden that little bit friendlier to pollinators. Here, Alys provides her five top tips to allow bees and other pollinators to thrive:
1) To attract bees, your garden will need plants that are rich in nectar and pollen, that will also flower repeatedly. These can be things that we would otherwise think of as weeds, such as buttercups, dandelions, thistles and clovers. Therefore you should consider letting a section of your garden grow wild. You can do this by adjusting the length of your mower so that the blades are higher, or you could even let parts of your lawn grow wild.
2) Insects and pollinators need a place to call home - this will be somewhere where they can sleep, rest and reproduce. For instance dead wood, like an old log or a pile of branches will work perfectly, and ensure that they are left undisturbed.
3) Bees need a supply of water just as much as they need flowers- they will drink a lot to make honey. So where do they get their water from? Something like a birdbath, pond or water butt are all useful in this regard. However you should stick some pebbles into the birdbath, so that they will have something to land on. Or else why not introduce marginal plants around the edge of the pond, to provide a landing area?
4) Simple flowers are better for bees than highly bred varieties. Therefore consider opting for plants that are nectar and pollen rich, such as sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, lavender, mint, daisies, marigolds, single Dahlias, Asters, parsley, coriander, wild carrots, heathers, sea thrift, poached egg plants, poppies, foxgloves, clover and borage. Plants will also produce less nectar if they are under stress – therefore ensure that you keep anything that grows in pots well-watered.
5) Keep your garden chemical free. Chemicals will remain in the system and linger in soil, even becoming a part of the water sources. If you're in doubt you can always ask at your garden centre for chemical free plants, or else learn how to sow your own seeds - it will generally be easier to get a hold of organic seeds than plants.
You can find out how to build your own bee hotel here.