July Talk ‘Gardening for Bees’

Richard Rickitt, Editor of ‘Bee Craft’ magazine, bee keeper at Westonbirt Arboretum, once kept hives at Buckingham Palace: he has a wealth of experience and passionately imparted many astonishing ‘bee facts’.

Did you know hairy footed beesĀ  like Pulmonaria, carder bees like hairy plants, cheap honey may not be pure and may contain a disease that can be passed to our bees or that Catalpa trees provide extrafloral nectar from the underside of their leaves?

Explaining their lifecycle Richard said queen bees, the ones that hibernate about October, emerge during February in search of nectar, pollen and nest sites; due to loss of habitats, hedgerows and hay meadows our countryside is in places, green deserts so our gardens are vital!

We can provide pollinators with yearlong food by planting drifts of simple, single flowers in blues (borage nectar is 60% sugar), purples (eg crocus), yellows (dandelions too) and whites (eg snowdrops). Avoid doubles and most hybrids and plant a range of shapes as bees’ tongues differ in length (some twice their body length). Richard suggested keeping some lawn long for clover and cowslips, leaving some areas a little untidy, letting some veg go to seed and creating a variety of nest sites (logs, stones, sand piles) and providing water.

A fascinating talk Richard.

Google how to make a bumble bee nest and how honey bees cool their hives.

Richard Rickitt