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Birds, bees and pollination

Pollination is essential for plants wouldn’t produce fruit, and for flowers to bloom, so to have lots of crops we need to encourage pollination. Some plants, like sweetcorn, use wind pollination, but most plants rely on other living things to move their pollen around, and that's where birds and bees come in! 

Bees are among the most important pollinators, so it’s important to attract these busy workers to your Little Garden. Butterflies, moths, flies, birds and even small mammals can also act as pollinators. 

To get your garden buzzing:
  • Ensure you have plenty of flowering plants to attract bees and other beneficial pollinators. You don’t have to have a large garden to plant a few herbs or flowers in pot plants, any flowering plant  
  • Grow bee-friendly, nectar-rich flowers such as lavender, borage, geraniums, herbs like thyme and wildflowers, throughout the year. It’s good to have a wide variety of flowering plants so there’s always something in bloom: try planting marigolds, cosmos, salvia, alyssum, lavender, poppies and echiums in your garden too.
  • Bees are especially attracted to yellow, white and blue flowers, while butterflies prefer red, orange and purple blooms. 
  • Extremely wet or cold weather while your plants are flowering can mean insects are less active, which can mean poor pollination and fewer fruit. In contrast, excessively hot and dry conditions can cause flowers to drop off which also affects your harvest, so be careful not to let your Little Garden crops dry out. 
  • If you’re using sprays in your garden, even organic ones, use them in the evening when bees are not active, and don’t spray actively flowering plants.  
  • You can even let your garden go to seed. The perfect plants to do this are broccoli, leek, cabbages and spring onion as these provide a crucial resource for bumblebees, especially at the end of winter when food is harder to find. A corner of the garden planted with flowering trees or herbs is also haven for bumblebees. 
  • You can encourage bees to your garden with a muddy or damp area that provides drinking water for bees. A small pile of dry grass or twigs makes a good nesting habitat.

Tip! If you find a stranded or sleepy bumblebee you can help boost its energy levels with a simple water-sugar mix. Mix equal parts of sugar and warm water then pour into a small container or lid. Place both the bee and the sugar-water mix near some flowers, but don't leave the sugar water outside for too long.