Bees are perfect pollinators. Attracting them to your garden can be crucial for a successful crop, as well as for strengthening future harvests.
Therefore, it’s important to take some time to work out how to attract bees to your garden. In the UK, the spring months are when bees start to come out of hibernation and make their appearance. This arrival coincides with the new flowers coming into bloom.
When it comes to drawing attention to the flowers inside your polytunnel, a strategy is needed. So, to help you take advantage of the return of these pollinators, we’ve created a guide to making your garden an inviting patch for bees. Read on to find out more.
How to attract bees to your garden for pollination
Before you plan out how to attract bees into your garden for pollination, it’s worth thinking about why they’re so important and what they need to pollinate your plants.
The significance of bees
You may have heard a lot of talk about the declining numbers of bees in recent years. If you’re new to gardening and you’ve only recently invested in a polytunnel and assorted gardening tools, you might not be aware of why falling numbers are a concern for crop growers.
Pollination is necessary for around three-quarters of the world’s food crops. Without the bees and other pollinators existing to move the pollen around and aid the production of seeds and fruits, future harvests could be at risk.
The renewed focus on sustainable living and growing your own produce means that now more than ever, it’s vital that gardeners and farmers continue to attract bees to their gardens.
What are bees looking for?
When bees arrive in a garden, they’re searching for nectar and pollen. The nectar gives them energy and pollen gives them protein. Keeping these two things in mind when you’re planning out your garden is a great starting point for providing a draw for bees to your plants and flowers.
Making your garden a haven for bees
Once you know why we need to attract bees to our gardens and what they’re looking for, it’s time to start thinking carefully about what they’ll be drawn to. If your crops are protected by a polytunnel, you’ll need to consider several factors to make them especially attractive to pollinators.
Think in colour
There are particular types of plant that bees head to first. This is usually because they are drawn to flowers and can see certain colours better than others. Purples, violets and blues are the colours they see best, so planting purple-flowering plants such as lavender, chives and comfrey will most likely hold appeal.
Even if you’re mostly focusing on growing crops in your polytunnel, cultivating a corner filled with flowers is a good way to attract bees. Once they’re inside, they’re more likely to visit some of your flowering crops.
While bees love flowers, it’s worth planning your summer salads and fruit bowls around attracting bees too. Popular crops for bees include apples, strawberries and onions, as well as tomatoes, potatoes and aubergines.
Keep it cool
Even in the early spring, your polytunnel can get very warm as soon as the sun comes out. Keeping it well-ventilated by opening the doors helps to cool it down as well as allowing bees and other pollinators to make their way inside. Keeping temperatures in check inside your polytunnel will also make the bees want to spend longer in your garden.
Why not plant some bee attracting flowers outside your polytunnel door to draw them closer, just like the growers at Clifton Chilli Club have done.
As well as attracting bees, it’s worth taking some time to attract other types of insects that can help to keep pests away. One such insect is the ladybird. Ladybirds work well with bees in pollinating plants and they also eat aphids, a pest that causes lots of problems for gardeners. Plant some fennel and dill in your polytunnel to draw them in.
When working out how to attract bees to your garden, much of it will require careful planning and a good layout. Whatever size your polytunnel, you can set up sections that have been specifically created for bringing in the bees. To find out more about polytunnel layouts, see our guide here.