Gardening for bees: Tip 3

Don't forget winter-flowering plants

You might be surprised to find out that honeybees don’t hibernate, which means they need access to nectar and pollen even during the winter. While winter-flowering plants are relatively limited in choice, this is a great opportunity to extend the season of interest in your garden, while also helping honeybees and other insects that emerge early from hibernation. 

  • You could plant bulbs such as crocuses or winter-flowering shrubs such as Oregon grape (Mahonia x media) and Japanese quince (Chaenomeles speciosa). My favourite winter-flowering perennial, lungwort (Pulmonaria sp), is also the favourite plant of the hairy-footed flower bee, which can be seen zig-zagging between the flowers on sunny days in February. At the other end of the year, there are plenty of fantastic plants that flower well into autumn, creating a colourful display with bountiful food for insects. 

  • No space? Get creative with window boxes to attract bees – try wildflowers or herbs in a sunny, south-facing window box, or violas and Tiarella for shady or north-facing windows. Or what about a winter-flowering shrub in a pot by the front door?