Plants for Bees and How to use this Blog

There are many lists of 'Bee Plants' to be found in Gardening and Conservation books and on Gardening and Conservation websites, however few such lists include more than a limited number of species of plant and there is often little to identify which plants are the best choice for a particular garden or location.  In 2010,  posters on the Wild About Britain forums  began a long running thread answering the question: Which plant in your garden attracted the most bees today ? In the following three years  nearly 250 seperate species and plant cultivars have been listed. Usefully, along with the date, each post gives the poster's location, which has meant that it has been possible to produce a list not only of which plants are attracting bees at what date, but where abouts in the UK that was happening. The WAB data forms the basis of this Blog

What are 'Bee Plants' ? 

There is no single thing that sets a plant that bees are attracted to, apart from any other plant. There are however certain characteristics which make certain plants attractive to certain bees such as the shape and size of the flower, or the time of year the plant is in bloom. So choosing the the 'best bee plants' is a kind of match making, and a good bee plant is simply one which in particular place at a particular time attracts bees to take pollen or nectar, or both.

What Bees ?

There are around 250 species of bee in the UK of which most are Solitary Bees, there are also 24 species of Bumble Bee and of course there is the Honey Bee. Solitary Bees tend to be quite small and often go unnoticed compared to larger Bumbles and the usually more numerous Honey Bee, but all three types are important to the environment. Each bee species is adapted to make use of a particular set of flowers, so if gardens and other spaces are to be planted to provide food for a range of bees, a range of plants is required.

How to use this Blog ?

The Blog is arranged by pages which are tabbed in two rows across the top of this page just below the title. There is a single global A-Z list of 245 plants but more useful for most purposes are the pages which list plants by the order they are visited by bees through the year - these are organised by regions of the UK. To see what plants may work best in your garden or other area for planting, simply choose the appropriate region and follow the seasonal listing. Some regions have longer lists than others, the reason for this is largely due to data collection - that is there were simply more people from some areas reporting on bee activity in their gardens. Not every plant will work in every garden and it is worth checking soil, climate and light requirements before buying new plants. This Blog is a work in progress, and links to details of every plants will be eventually added. The second row of tabbed pages includes listings of bee plants arranged by type - these can help in planning a bee (and human) friendly garden.

File:Bee-apis.jpg Wikimedia Commons