As part of the Boyne Valley Food Series we recently visited the Bee Wise Garden in Kilmessan County Meath for their The Story of Honey event. A sold out crowd experienced a guided tour from Paddy who owns and runs Bee Wise, through his beautiful pollinator friendly 5 acre garden. Throughout the tour Paddy gave visitors some tips on how to make gardens more pollinator friendly so we have put together a few tips and tricks for you to try at home in your own garden to help our pollinator friends.
Bees provide us with an invaluable service by pollinating the plants we grow but unfortunately our bees and other pollinating insects are in trouble. The good news is that we can all help by making our gardens more pollinator friendly. Every garden, no matter its size, can be a haven for hungry pollinators! Here are a few helpful tips we have put together to make your garden more pollinator friendly!
One of the simplest ways to attract bees to visit your garden is by growing flowers rich in pollen and nectar which is very straight forward in the summer months. It is also important to try to have some year round flowering plants.
Another very achievable way to make your garden more pollinator friendly is to leave a patch of it wild, allowing common wildflowers such as dandelions, clover, buttercups and primroses to grow. If this doesn’t appeal to you then you could consider cutting your lawn less often or transforming sections of it into a wildflower-rich meadow by sowing seeds of yellow rattle into it in early autumn. This wonderful little wildflower naturally robs fertility from over-vigorous species of grasses, allowing lots of daintier, pollinator-friendly wild grasses and flowers to thrive in their place.
It is also a good idea to stop or at least limit the use of garden chemicals. Especially avoid those containing what are known as neonicotinoids or neonics, a common ingredient in many over-the-counter insecticidal sprays as well as in some pre-treated seed. Similarly, avoid using weedkillers and fungicidal sprays. None of these are good for pollinating insects, or indeed, for humans.
Most of us realise the importance of flowers for pollinators but trees are also of huge importance as thee flowers of many common garden trees are abundant sources of food for pollinating insects. Trees suchs as the native hawthorn, hazel, alder, rowan, crab apple, willow, horse chestnut, ornamental cherry and most fruit trees. The flowers of many common garden shrubs such as berberis, forsythia, potentilla, lavender, rosemary, mahonia, viburnum and cotoneaster are also excellent sources of food.
Another trick Paddy shared with us and one that the kids will enjoy is creating little bee hotels. Learn how to make a bee hotel here- https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/lifestyle/outdoorsandgarden/how-to-make-a-bee-hotel-in-5-simple-steps-916518.html
Helping tire bees is also an easy task to undertake, if you find a bee at an apparent standstill particularly in winter or miserable weather help them recover by giving them a little drink of sugar mixed with warm water. Just leave it beside the bee and they should be able to reach it and recover.
Hopefully you will be able to use some of these tips and tricks in your garden to help our pollinators.
The Bee Wise Garden and Nature Trail are hosting similar events in the future, visit their website for details and contact information- https://beewise.ie/
There are lots more fantastic events and experiences coming up in the Boyne Valley Food Series in 2019. Head over to https://boynevalleyflavours.ie/ to see the full line up.
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The Boyne Valley is home to a bountiful supply of passionate farmers, food and drinks producers, chefs and eateries whose passion is to bring the flavours of our landscape to your table. To understand, you must experience!
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