Bees and plants

We all know that bees are good for your garden. However, I’ve always been a bit scared of them. I once had one fly into my ear. I stupidly covered my ear, got a noisy buzz, removed my hand, and the bee flew out.

Incredibly, I’ve never been stung by one, yet I’ll still jump a mile if it flies right at me.

A few months back, at the Bristol Festival of Nature, I went along and saw Brigit Strawbridge (wife of the man with the tremendous moustache, and well-known green advocate) do a presentation about bees, their lives, why their numbers are dwindling, why necto..neonecto..nectoninnoids?..nectin….why pesticides are bad. From this presentation, I learnt that only one of the many types of bees has the ability to produce the right frequency and pollinate tomato plants (maybe I’m lacking that bee, and THAT’s the reason why my tomato plant failed! (A bad workman blames his bees)).

Especially after discovering that lots of species of bees don’t even have the ability to sting, I started looking forward to seeing them in my garden. I’ve noticed they tend to gravitate more towards some plants than others, and so I thought I’d document the top 6 bee-favourite ones, and show them here, in the order that they flowered this year.

Note: Bees are hard to photograph. By the time the camera is in focus, they’ve moved somewhere else. (A bad workman blames his autofocus.)

1. Lupins.

Bees love these. Can’t get enough. I’m amazed I managed to get a shot with no bees in it.

2. Clover.

Bit of a nuisance this one. Half the garden was covered in it, but who is going to cut it back/mow it, with bees on it all day? Not me.

3. Heleniums.

This is some variety of helenium. After the lupins died off, the bees really liked these.

4. Sunflowers.

Pretty easy to grow, and the bees love them.

5. Scabious (Musical Prelude).

It might sound like a skin condition, have the campest variety name ever, and look like a decoration from a 1980s cheerleader-based porn film (I would imagine), but my bees enjoy this plant a lot. It flowers (with intermittent dying off) for ages, and the white ones are such a bright white, they’re hard to photograph.

6. ‘Purple things’.

You know purple things, right? Monty Don is always banging on about planting more ‘purple things’.

No?…OK, so last year, I noticed a load of packets of seeds that had gone past their best before date, so I went outside and planted them. I didn’t plan anything, or even mark what I was planting where – I just chucked them all in.

Consequently, within the year, this enormous plant grew (among other things), and as I’ve lost the packet, I’ve absolutely no idea what it is.

Bees like it a lot. There’s often 2-3 at once on the same plant.

Any ideas? Let me know.