How to attract bees and other pollinators to your garden

Bees provide a vital service for maintaining and preserving the ecological balance in our world. These busy insects are responsible for pollinating nearly three-quarters of the world’s food-producing plants. With world numbers in decline, it is more important now than ever to support their survival by creating bee friendly gardens.

There are over 1700 species of bees in Australia that rely on a healthy and productive environment to provide food and safe nesting habitats. Planting a pesticide free flower-filled garden will not only gladden your heart but will help the bee population at the same time. Here’s what you can do to attract bees and other pollinators to your garden and provide a safe environment to frequent.

Create a bee and bug friendly habitat

Plant various colours of pollinator attracting flowers in masses

Bees are known to have exceptional colour vision which helps them find flowers, however, they can’t see all of the colours humans can see.  As bees don’t have a photoreceptor for red, they can only see colours at the yellow and blue ends of the spectrum. They’re particularly attracted to blue, purple, violet, white, and yellow flowers, and therefore favour varieties like sunflowers, daisies, eucalyptus, cosmos, zinnias, nasturtium, lavender, borage, calendula and sage to name a few. Although they can’t see red, they may still feed on red flowers that produce a strong scent such as bottle brush and grevilleas.

Bees prefer flowers with wide blooms and open petals which make it easy for them to land and feed on the nectar, but often these flower varieties are annuals that bloom once on a single stem. To ensure bees and pollinator bugs can feed all year round, plant a variety of flowers that bloom in different seasons or offer a succession of flowers over a period.  And as hard as it can be, try to resist the urge to cut the flowers in your garden for inside use. Admire them from afar or use it as an excuse to wander around your garden every day.

Don’t use harmful pesticides

Most pesticides aren’t selective and can be harmful to all garden bugs and bees even though the bottle might say otherwise. An organic and pesticide free garden is the safest home for pollinator bugs and bees, but if you’re having trouble with garden pests try safe and natural preventive measures to deter them such as planting companion plants known for repelling pests such as marigold, nasturtium, lavender and many varieties of herbs.

Create a bee water station

Like all animals, bees need a dependable source of water. Provide the bees and beneficial bugs in your garden with a safe place to drink water by placing a few rocks in a shallow dish filled with water. Ensure part of the rocks are sitting above the waterline as this will provide a safe place for bees to land and access the water.

Make a native bee hotel

There are more than 1500 species of native bees in Australia that play an important environmental role in pollinating plants, especially native flora. Unlike honeybees, native bees are solitary and nest in tiny hollows and nooks. Give the native bees in your garden a safe place to live and raise their young with a native bee hotel. Bound together various-shaped twigs, bamboo hallows, and untreated logs with drill holes in them. Pack it tightly into a container that has one end sealed and place in a safe spot in your garden out of the elements. Native bees will nest in the small spaces safely away from predators.

Why it is important to grow Australian native plants

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