How to bee-friendly this summer!

Tuesday 1 August 2017

Bee lovers prepared to let the grass grow for the cause

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and The Wildlife Trusts’ Bee Creative in the Garden! campaign is in full swing this summer and has had a fantastic response by gardeners who are creating havens for wild bees across the UK. New polls reveal how people would most like to help wild bees - planting foxgloves and letting your lawn grow long were the stand-out favourites. We asked*:

Which of these bee-friendly plants would you most like to plant in your garden? (752 votes)
47% Foxglove
25% Sunflower
16% Borage
12% Single dahlias

Which of these actions are you most likely to do to help wild bees? (342 votes)
60% Let your lawn grow long
35% Make a bee home
5% Dig a pond

Bee Creative in the Garden supporters

Monty Don says:
“British gardeners can actively nurture and conserve the wild bee population. Gardens are always a rich source of food for wild bees and with a little care can be made even better for them without any trouble or loss of pleasure to the gardener. You do not need rare or tricky plants. In fact the opposite is true. Bees need pollen and the smaller flowers of unhybridised species are likely to be a much richer source than huge show blooms on plants that are the result of elaborate breeding. Any flower that is open and simple, such as members of the daisy family, or any that are set like a lollipop on a stick, such as scabious, and all members of the thistle family, are ideal for attracting honey bees, which have rather short tongues so need easy access. Bumblebees have longer tongues so are better adapted for plants that have more of a funnel shape, such as foxgloves.”

Go wild for these bees this August!
Late summer is an excellent time to look for wild bees, including some more unusual species and recent arrivals to the UK:

• All species of bumblebee are active at this time of year. Towards the end of the season (Aug – Sept) bumblebee nests start producing males and new queens. Queens are usually significantly larger than the worker females, and may linger at the nest initially but will eventually mate and then forage to build up their body fat in preparation for hibernation over winter.

• Common Colletes (Colletes succinctus) – a striking looking solitary bee that uses heather as its principal pollen source.

• Harebell Carpenter Bee (Chelostoma campanularum) – this tiny black bee collects pollen from garden species of bellflower. You can also help them by leaving dead wood with holes in for nesting and by making a bee hotel from dried reed stems.

• The Common Furrow Bee (Lasioglossum calceatum) is around for most of the year. In August both males and females may be found on a wide variety of garden flowers.

• Leafcutter bees are active until the end of August and you can sometimes see distinctive circular and oval shapes that the female bee cuts out of leaves, particularly roses. She carries the leaf pieces back to the nest site, gluing them together with sticky saliva to create a cigar-shaped nest to lay eggs in. Nest sites can include cavities in brickwork and rotting wood in addition to pipes, pots and old bags of compost.

• A relatively recent arrival to the UK is the Ivy Bee (Colletes hederae). Not everyone will have seen the species but its range is increasing rapidly. This bee is active in the autumn months and gathers pollen almost entirely from ivy flowers, the latest flowering native plant. Bees nest by burrowing into the soil and small piles of the excavated soil can sometimes be seen in large numbers on lawns.

For more information about these bees, please see the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society website

Take action for wild bees this summer!
• Check on your bee hotel to see how many are in use (the holes will be capped off with mud, leaves or resin).

• Put out shallow dishes of water, filled with pebbles, to provide easy drinking places for thirsty bees, chiefly honey bees.

• Bee friendly plants for August – single flowered dahlias, cosmos, globe thistle (Echinops), Agastache foeniculum, hemp agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum), heather (Calluna vulgaris), lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), ivy (Hedera helix).

• For more inspiration on Summer flowering plants that are good for bees see the BWARS website list here.

Enter our ‘Bee Creative’ photo competition or download a wild bee-friendly gardening guide which contains lots of facts about the different species of wild bee, their lifecycles and how they nest, as well as practical steps gardeners can take to help them! All at  

The wild bee-friendly gardening guide, ‘Get your garden buzzing for bees’, is free to download and contains lots of facts about the different species of wild bee, their lifecycles and how they nest, as well as practical steps gardeners can take to help them. It is available to download at

Enter our Bee Creative photo competition! Gardeners, gardening groups and schools are encouraged to share how they’ve welcomed wild bees into their gardens by posting a picture on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram – using the hashtag #wildaboutgardens and the category being entered – of their bee-friendly area, whether that be a tailor-made bee home, a flower-packed border or a wall that bees have made their own.

A list of the wildlife gardening events taking place can be found at – please note that more will be added as the season progresses.


Notes to editors

* The polls were twitter polls from @WildAbtGardens in July 2017.

For further information or to request images please contact:
• Emma Robertshaw or Liz Carney, The Wildlife Trusts, 01636 670015
• Claire Weaver, RHS, 0207 821 3043

Notes to Editors

Wild About Gardens

The Wildlife Trusts and the RHS set up Wild About Gardens in 2009 and Wild About Gardens Week in 2013. It is an annual celebration of wildlife gardening and provides a focus to encourage people to use their gardens and take action to help support wildlife. Over the past 50 years we've seen declines in two thirds of the UK’s plant and animal species, for a range of reasons, including loss of habitat. Many of our common garden species - hedgehogs, house sparrows, starlings and common frogs, for example – are increasingly endangered. Gardens have enormous potential to act as mini-nature reserves. There are 15 million gardens in the UK, estimated to cover about 270,000 hectares – more than the area of all the National Nature Reserves in the UK.

The Wildlife Trusts
There are 47 individual Wildlife Trusts covering the whole of the UK. All are working for an environment rich in wildlife for everyone. We have more than 800,000 members including 150,000 members of our junior branch Wildlife Watch. Our vision is to create A Living Landscape and secure Living Seas. We care for around 2,300 nature reserves and every year we advise thousands of landowners and organisations on how to manage their land for wildlife. We also run marine conservation projects around the UK, collecting vital data on the state of our seas and celebrating our amazing marine wildlife. Every year we work with thousands of schools and our nature reserves welcome millions of visitors. Each Wildlife Trust is working with local communities to inspire people about the future of their area: their own Living Landscapes and Living Seas.

About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood to inspire passion and excellence in the science, art and practice of horticulture. Our vision is to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener, healthier, happier and more beautiful place. We believe everyone in every village, town and city should benefit from growing plants to enhance lives, build stronger, healthier, happier communities and create better places to live.

We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley, our flagship garden, in 1903. From our first meetings in a small room off London’s Piccadilly, we have grown to become the world’s largest gardening charity. At our gardens and shows and through our scientific research, publications, libraries and our education and community programmes we inspire a passion for gardening and growing plants, promote the value of gardens, demonstrate how gardening is good for us and explain the vital roles that plants undertake.

The RHS is committed to bring the joy of gardening to millions more people, inspire the next generation of gardeners and invest in the future to safeguard a £10.4 billion industry employing more than 300,000 people. We are entirely funded by our members, visitors and supporters. RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and help us secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 020 3176 5820, or visit

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About the RHS

The RHS believes that gardening improves the quality of life and that everyone should have access to great garden experiences. As a charity we help to bring gardening into people's lives and support gardeners of all levels and abilities; whether they are expert horticulturists or children who are planting seeds for the very first time.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit

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