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How to Look After Bees and Other Beneficial Insects in Your Garden

Posted in Garden Advice on January 25, 2019

Bee Safe – How to Look After Bees and Other Beneficial Insects in Your Garden 

Bees are regarded as the most important pollinating insects. It is estimated that bees pollinate a third of the food crops. The honey bee also provides us with honey, beeswax and royal jelly and venom used in health and beauty products.

It is not just the honey bee that benefits us, the humble bumblebee is also an important pollinator and who doesn’t like watching these fluffy insects buzzing around the garden in summer.

You Can Help Attract Bees to Your Garden – Here are Some Tips

Plant Bee-Friendly Plants

  • Chose plants that flower at different times of the year, so you have flowers blooming in your garden all year round.
  • Avoid hybrid flowers as they are often sterile and have little nectar or pollen.
  • Avoid double flowers as they also often lack pollen.
  • Plant flowers of the same type together in patches as bees like to visit the same flower types at any time.
  • Plant flowering trees – bees get most of their nectar from trees.
  • See below for plants that attract bees and other pollinators.

Give Bees a Drink

  • Create a ‘bee bath’ – Fill a shallow bowl or tray with water and put pebbles in the water so that the bees have somewhere to stand and drink.

Give Bees a Home

  • Leave a plot of your garden undisturbed where ground-dwelling bees such as bumblebees can nest.
  • Bumblebee and mason bee nest boxes are widely available from garden centres. These are a great way for the family to learn about bees.

Take Care with Pesticides

  • Use pesticides only when necessary and take care to use them as directed on the label.
  • Avoid spraying flowers that bees would visit.
  • Spray late in the day when beneficial insects are less active.
  • Use low impact pesticides:
    • Natural pyrethrum insecticide such as Organic Insect Control breaks down quickly in light, but it will be active through the night when many pest insects are active and will have dissipated the next day when the bees are active again.
    • Organic Super Spraying Oil is another safe way to control pest insects with low risk to bees. It works when applied directly to pests such as scale insects, aphids and whitefly; bees can be avoided.

Plants that attract bees include:

In general, herbs and garden perennials are good for bees.

Perennials and Annuals

Allium, Aster, Basil, Bergamot, Blanket flower, Borage, Cosmos, Flax, Gaillardia, Geranium, Globe thistle, Goldenrod, Helianthus, Hyssop, Lavender, Lupin, Marjoram, Mint, Mullein, Paintbrush, Poppy, Rosemary, Sage, Sunflower, Thyme, Verbena, Wallflower, Wild rose, Zinnia.

Trees, Shrubs and Fruit

Almond, Apple, Blackcurrant, Cherry, Gooseberry, Pear, Plum, Raspberry, Strawberry, Lilac, Willow.


Harakeke, rātā and rewarewa.

David Brittain

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