Creating a Buzz

21/07/2012 15:32


It's hard to imagine a garden without flowering plants and the more varities you grow;the wider the range of wildlife you will attract.

The Traditional cottage gardens with their mix of cultivated plants,wildflowers,aromatic herbs and vegetables,have always been good for attracting wildlife. Most flowers were traditional favourites and tended to be of single blooms which provided more nectar and attracted more wildlife visitors. And of course, traditional cottage gardeners never used any harsh chemicals.

When attracting wildlife to the garden,one will attract harmful insects along with beneficial ones but with a little planning and careful planting,the nectar,pollen and seeds will also attract predatory insects such as hoverflies and lacewings which help control damaging caterpillars and ladybugs to contol aphids for example.Helpful birds and small mammals will also be attracted to help ensure that pests don't get out of control.

There has been a lot of talk recently regarding the decline of the honey bee populations all over the world. It just shows how important it is to make sure that we all try to do are bit to help our buzzy friends. Without our honey bees we could not pollinate the crops of fruit and vegetables that are a large part of our diet. Start by Planting more local and native plants which will thrive easier and will be more suited for the local bee populations. Also try to have plants that flower through out the year, as this helps sustain the food supply. By providing lots of different shapes of flowers,you will attract more species of bees and give them more variety.

Providing a nectar bar will get plenty of buzzing, fluttering and flitting going on around your garden. The ideal border should contain a mixture of flowering and fruiting shrubs, herbaceous perennials, biennials and annuals. When choosing plants, as ever native plants are very useful. Not to worry if you only have a small garden, as even the tiny of measures can be just as valuable to to wildlife. With a little thought you can grow a variety of plants that will appeal to bees, butterflies, moths and insects. All that needed is a few containers, window boxes, hanging baskets and climbing plants.

Buddleia is probably the best known plant for attracting butterflies and the Tobacco plants are popular with the moths. Other scented favourites for moths and butterflies are sweet williams, night scented stock, and white jasmine. Honeysuckle is the food plant for the caterpillars of a great number of moths and a good nectar source for many more, including butterflies. You will find many bees and other small insects buzzing around the honeysuckle on a sunny day. Scabious-pincushion flower is nectar rich and will attract a variety of insects, and bees, also moths and butterflies. Verbena bonariensis, which have clusters of rosy-mauve coloured flowers up-on tall stems is brilliant for attracting butterflies and bees.

All helpful insects like bees and butterflies, love aromatic herbs. This is likely to be one of the busiest place in your garden in high summer. The flowers of Marjoram are very attractive to bees, butterflies and insects. Rosemary is another favourite and Lemon balm will attract a host of insects. Lavender, Thyme, Sage, and Hyssop all attract helpful insects and lots of bees. A few lavender plants amongst the roses not only make a wonderful companions, they can also help prevent greenfly.

Borage is extremely attractive to honeybees, but also attracts many other insects, including bumblebees and butterflies. It's also a good companion for strawberries and vine crops. The pale blue flowers of Chicory attract insects and butterflies in summer and later the birds will enjoy the seeds. Chicory is an old country garden plant; it was once known as Shepherd's clock because it was possible to estimate the time of day due to the fact that its flowers close at noon. Chives look quite beautiful on their own or planted as short hedges to edge paths or vegetable beds asthey will help to repel carrot flies among other damaging insects. Bees adore chives and will happily buzz in and out of the flowers all day long in the summer.

Seasonal planting will give a wider choice to wildlife.Select plants that will flower in succession from early spring until late Autumn. Useful early spring flowers like Wallflowers, Primroses, Hyacinths, Broom, and Forget-me-nots will appeal to a host of insects and butterflies. Sweet William is a traditional cottage plant famous for its late spring and early summer colour. The nectar of Sweet William will attract bees, butterflies and birds to your flower beds. Add plenty of members of the Daisy family. Cosmos is fabulous to look at and easy to grow. Beautiful large daisy-like flowers which are produced above the fine feathery bright green leaves.

Annuals such as candytuft, will attract bee-like hoverflies that are good pollinators. It also provides nectar for other beneficial insects and cover for various beetles. Poached egg plants are cheerful and easy to grow and full of nectar.Very attractive to bees. It's also an asset in the vegetable garden as a companion plant to attract hoverflies which will feed on aphids and pollinate plants. Sunflowers are a familiar part of the vegetable patch, and for good reason; their abundant pollen and nectar attract butterflies and bees and birds will enjoy feasting on their seeds.The tiny white flowers of of Sweet Alyssum are a rich source of nectar for many pollinators.

Foxgloves, or Fairy Thimbles as I call them, are loved by bees and they grace the borders beautifully. Globe thistles are very striking, lovely silver foliage and blue flowers. Butterflies and other insects will visit them and when they have finished, the seeds will attract finches and other birds.

Mullein is one of the easiest plants to grow and would look stunning at the back of any border with its huge spikes of yellow flowers in summer. The flowers attract bees and butterflies and the seed heads are a favourite home for the ladybirds to overwinter, whilst the leaves are food for the stripy mullein caterpillar. In medieval times seed heads were dipped in wax and then used as candles when rushes wasn't available.Michaelmas daisies and sedum provides a last heavy crop of nectar near the end of the year. Also include Golden rod for the insects and seeds. Ivy like Hedera helix ,although not planted for its blooms, provides a late nectar source for the butterflies to feed on before autumn and winter sets in.

Try not to be too tidy around the garden in Autumn as there maybe tiny larvae of all kinds of insects, moths and butterflies curled up in the dead leaves or seed pods. By leaving the garden to end the year at its own pace you will be protecting lots of small creatures, your borders will look more interesting too as a touch of frost on stems and seed heads can look magical.

 Honey Bee Facts

* Honey bees are social insects. They are environmentally friendly and are vital as pollinators.

* Their colonies includes a queen, drones and workers.There will be 1 queen, 250 drones, 20,000 female foragers, 30,000 female house-bees, 5,000 to 7,000 eggs, 7,000-11,000 larvae being fed, 16,000 to 24,000 larvae developing into adults in sealed cells.

* There are 20,000 species of bee in the world,but only four species provide honey.

* A bee will visit 50-100 flowers in a trip.

* Average speed a bee can fly is 15-20 mph,and when in flight a bee will beat its wings 180 times per minute.

* Each honey bee colony has a unique odor for members identification. Entrance guard bees inspect incoming bees for correct hive odor and to ensure that they are bringing in food.Other bees will be rejected or attacked with soldier bees.

* It is estimated that 1100 honey bee stings are required to be fatal.

* Honey bees will sting if provoked, but most are unwilling to. A Honey bee can only sting once, then it dies. However, the queen honey bee is capable of stinging multiple times, but she does not use this capability at all.

* Honey bees communicate with one another by "dancing".

* Bees are the only species that produces human food.

* A hive can contain up to 70,000 bees in the middle of summer.

* Drambuie, a scotch liquer is made from honey.

* Honey is the only food that includes all the substances necessary to sustain life, including enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and water.