Some of you may have noticed a bit more of a buzz around the allotments in the last couple of days. We now have bees in the apiary and I’m sure Shirley will confirm that her plot was the first to benefit from their hard work .
The first hive has come from a swarm of Ming’s bees. A second hive has now gone in with an “artificial swarm” from Lin’s hive. This will take longer to get going as the queen is still a larva at present and needs to hatch and mate before she starts laying. It will be interesting to compare how the two colonies develop over the summer.
Some people have shown interest in planting specific plants that the bees will love. As a general guide, bees love daisy and bell shaped flowers. Always choose single flower varieties, double flowers don’t provide nectar for insects. The flowers on many fruit and vegetable crops are firm favourites of bees – beans, peas and fragrant herbs are loved, as are apples, currants and raspberries. If you have space in or around your vegetable plot, try to include flowers from the list below.
Companion planting, a traditional method of growing different plants together for mutual benefits like extra nutrients, protection from harsh weather and pest control, can make your plot particularly good for bees that will in turn benefit your produce. For example, nasturtiums grown among your brassicas will protect them from caterpillars – caterpillars will choose to eat nasturtium leaves rather than your cabbages, while their flowers will attract bees. Chives or sage amongst your carrots will ward off aphids and again their flowers will be great for bees, which in turn are then on hand to pollinate your other crops.
Although there are lots more, here is a list of just some of the bee-friendly plants you could choose from (* denotes British native plants):
Alyssum, Annual coreopsis, Annual scabious, Azalea, Bluebell (English)*, Borage, Candytuft, Catmint, Chives, Clover, Comfrey*, Common poppy*, Corn chamomile*, Corn marigold*, Corncockle*, Cornflower*, Dahlias, Deadnettle*, Devil’s bit scabious*, Field Woundwort*, Forget-me-not, Foxglove*, French marigold, Goldenrod*, Greater knapweed*, Larkspur, Lavender, Lesser snapdragon*, Lungwort, Lupin, Meadow clary*, Mexican hat, Mint, Nasturtium, Primrose*, Round-leaved fluellen*, Rosemary, Sage, Sea holly, Sedum, Spiked speedwell*, Sunflower, Sweet William, Teasel*, Thistle*, Thyme, Tobacco plant, Viper’s bugloss*, Whorled clary*, Wild clary.