We are often asked how best to help bees and other pollinators by choosing suitable plants for window boxes, gardens or larger areas. There are excellent websites that give good, detailed advice:
- The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) website contains several useful links and an explanation of their “Plants for Pollinators” logo
- The British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) website includes links to Sarah Holdsworth’s explanation of plant names and a detailed printable list of plants that will help pollinators
Pollinators visit gardens, hedgerows, trees and wildflowers when they forage for food. The best sources are often the old-fashioned, easy-to-grow species: herbs such as thyme and hyssop, trees such as willow and lime, shrubs such as cotoneaster in its many forms.
For honey bees, snowdrops are a beneficial source of protein-rich pollen at the end of winter, and ivy provides lots of nectar late in the year to boost their honey stores.
Honey bees in particular stay faithful to a single source of nectar until it is finished so planting a swathe of oregano or crocus will benefit them more than a mix of individual plants.