The loss and fragmentation of natural habitats means that our gardens and allotments are more important than ever for supporting bees.
Gardening for bumblebees
Since the early Twentieth century, changing agricultural practices have resulted in the loss of 98% of the UK’s wildflower meadows. This drastic reduction in flower-rich habitats is thought to be the main cause of bumblebee decline.
Gardens and allotments are an important refuge for bumblebees, offering valuable forage, as well as sites for nesting and hibernation. Gardens also link habitats such as parks, brownfield sites and pockets of woodland, and have been shown to be an important source of bees for nearby farmland.
Our plots are a great opportunity for us each to nurture a small piece of the earth for the benefit of local nature. We can garden with bumblebees in mind by improving the provision of flowers, creating suitable habitats, employing wildlife-friendly garden management and by taking time to observe and learn about the bees.
Bumblebees and many other insects depend on flowers for food. By growing a range of nectar and pollen-rich plants, that bloom during different seasons, we can create vibrant, flower-rich habitats for bees. Find out more.
Gardens and allotments can make great nesting and hibernation sites for bumblebees, especially if we create informal or unmanaged areas, leave un-mown grass and wildflowers along boundaries, and minimise disturbance. Find out more.
Insecticides that are used to control garden pests like aphids are also harmful to bees. By gardening without pesticides, and by sourcing plants and seeds with care, we can help minimise bees’ exposure to these substances. Find out more.
Taking time to observe the bumblebees in our gardens and allotments is a wonderful way to learn about these fascinating creatures. Between 2017 and 2020, we received 2,800 flower surveys, providing useful insights into bumblebee presence and foraging. Find out more.