ATTRACT POLLINATORS WITH A BEE-FRIENDLY GARDEN
And learn how to build your own bee hotel
Welcoming honey-makers into your garden is easier than you may think. Once you know how to cater for bees, planning your next flower pot or gardening project becomes super easy. Similarly, a few simple additions to your current garden could make all the difference.
HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN PLANT FOR BEES
Herbs such as sage, fennel, lavender, thyme, and rosemary.
Flowers such as sunflowers, coneflowers (Enchinacea purpurea), marguerite (Osteospermum ecklonis), dahlias, roses, Cape Forget-me-not (Anchusa capensis), and cosmos.
Shrubs such as Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis), Aloes (Aloe spp), proteas, September Bush (Polygala myrtifolia), and porkbush (portulacaria afra).
Fruits and veggies such as watermelons, cucumbers and pumpkin are a bee-fave!
When thinking of what to plant next, try picking plants with long blooming cycles, which will keep your yellow friends returning to the garden.
ROSES ARE A BEE’S BEST FRIEND
Roses, specifically those with more open blooms, are available in almost every colour imaginable! Roses invite bees with a great variation of scents, flowering for most of the year, and ranging from miniature, bushes and shrub roses, to enormous gorgeous climbers.
Bees love most flowers but they are especially fond of blue and purple buds. If your garden is all planted up, not to worry, you can still be the bee’s knees by boasting your pro-pollination garden. Become a bee-warrior, make your mark, and do your bit for the bees by including the following into your garden:
- Group the same plants together to form one square metre of beelicious food.
- Let your plants flower for longer allowing honeybees to come back for seconds.
- Provide a fresh water source such as a birdbath, water feature, or even freshly watered pot plants will provide thirst-quenching droplets.
- Avoid all pesticides and other chemicals as the majority are toxic to bees.
- Flowering weeds are actually a very important food source for bees. Try leaving a weed-friendly section in your garden to show your support for the greater good of life on Earth.
- Your local garden centre has a full range of products for all your bee gardening needs – from spades and rakes to soil and seeds.
Out of all the bee species, the solitary bee is probably the most family-friendly as they pollinate flowers and they don’t sting. These guys are different from honeybees although they look very similar. Solitary bees do not live in colonies, do not serve a queen or make honey. They don’t make wax either. Some solitary bee species nest in large groups, and a few have evolved social behaviour rather like bumblebees, but they generally build individual nests and work alone.
Join us, gardeners of all sorts, and lets #POLLINATIONSA loaded with green thumbs and hearts that beat and buzz for the bees. Let’s get planting, building, and using our resources to make every day a bee-conscious occasion and every backyard a bee-friendly safe-haven. WE can make a difference, and the difference lies in what we can make together. Life is a Garden, how will you sustain yours?
BUILD A BEE HOTEL
There are many different types of bees, and the solitary bee is probably the friendliest helper in the garden. They’re different to honey bees although they look so similar you might not notice a difference. Solitary bees don’t build a hive, they live alone. They’re great helpers in the garden because they help to pollinate flowers and they don’t sting. Their favourite place to nest is in little holes, they bring pollen and nectar to their young to feed them.
You can home the solitary bee by building your very own bee hotel. Now that’s a sure win for team-bee! You may also wish to home some honeybees in an organic hollowed out tree stump. We love this idea as the wood is close to home for the little guys. Making a bee hotel is a wonderful way to keep children busy in the garden, and this is a fun way to help them do it while explaining the importance of having bees in the garden. Encourage them, daily, to go and check if there are any bees using the hotel – they’ll love seeing their ‘hotel’ being inhabited! There are several ways you can go about setting up a natural beehive at home, as well as many DIY ways you could build one. Google is your friend, dear gardeners, and your local GCA will help you bring your idea to life!
HOW TO BUILD A BEE HOTEL FOR YOUR FRIENDLY GARDEN POLLINATORS
STEP 1: BUILDING THE BOX
Using the panel pins, secure the panels together to form a box shape. Remember to leave two panels for the roof. It is best to have one set of hands holding everything steady and the other set of hands doing the hammering.
STEP 2: MAKING THE ROOF
Angle the pieces of wood for the roof, in an A-frame shape and use the duct tape to keep the two pieces together. Use two pieces of duct tape, if necessary. Secure the A-frame shaped roof to the box with some more duct tape for a temporary fix, or screw in some hinges.
STEP 3: CREATING HOTEL “ROOMS” FOR THE BEES
Cut pieces of wood and bamboo to the same depth as the box. If you sourced bamboo from bamboo cane fencing, remove the bamboo canes from the wire fencing. Drill holes of different depths and thicknesses into the logs and wood pieces (anything between 2mm and 10mm drill bit will work). Ensure the holes are smooth and clean – remove any sharp pieces left behind and sand it down lightly. Fill the box with the wood and bamboo pieces that have been drilled and cut to size – make sure they are evenly distributed, well compacted and secure.
STEP 4: LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!
Place the hotel in a sunny spot in the garden, on a southern-facing wall, 1m above the ground. Solitary bees love having a variety of flowers to choose from, so plants lots of Marigolds, Gazania, Lavender, Salvia, Plectranthus, Hibiscus, Osteospermum, Alyssum, and Portulaca near the area. Not only are you feeding bees, but you’re also adding colour and delight to your garden. You can then add a few homely touches to your hotel – make a clay bee, paint it, paint the roof red if you like, and make a sign with your hotel’s name.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED TO BUILD A BEE HOTEL
- 7 pieces of marine plywood (to make a box 15cm in-depth, 20x30cm width and height), drilled together or pinned together with panel pins
- Small logs
- Any offcuts of wood
- Bamboo canes (try to get bamboo cane fencing from a garden centre, and pull it apart)
- Plant to mention: Marigolds, gazania, lavender, salvia, plectranthus, Hibiscus, osteospermum, alyssum, and portulaca
- Some clay and paint to make a bee (optional)
- Duct tape for the roof
- Hinges and screws
- Sign for bee hotel/rates
You’ll see your bee hotel being used if there are little mud tunnels or door over the openings drilled into the wood and bamboo. Be sure not to disturb the bees and their nests because that’s where they keep their babies and their eggs.
Join our community
Subscribe to receive news, tips and other great, useful content from us. We promise not to fill up your inbox.
Enter your email address in the box below and hit 'SUBSCRIBE!'