If you’re wondering ‘what happens to bees in winter?’, well, they don’t just go away. Although they’re not as prevalent in UK gardens as they are in summer, our black and yellow friends are still alive and well. They may be spending more time huddling in their hives than buzzing about your Buddleia, but it’s important to provide them with the supplies and shelter they need in order to survive.
How do I help bees in winter?
There are many different types of bees in the UK. More than 250 species, to be exact! Bumblebees, honeybees, mason bees and mining bees are all common types you’re bound to see in your garden – and they all benefit from a little bit of help over winter. But what does this entail?
The government have highlighted a few ways in which you can help reverse pollinator decline. These include preserving potential hibernation habitats, planting early flowering bulbs and adding thriving winter plants to your collection.
Introducing evergreen plants into your garden can never be a bad thing. After all, who wants a drab and dreary garden once all the summer foliage has come and gone? However, aesthetic isn’t the only reason to green up over winter. There is plenty of UK wildlife that benefits from a little bit of gardening care and attention.
Which evergreen plants help bees in winter?
Flowering from late autumn through to late winter, bees adore Mahonia. These fabulous evergreen plants are great for even the harshest of UK winters, keeping their wits about them even at temperatures as low as -15 degrees C.
Ideal for shady gardens, these hardy shrubs can grow in almost any common soil and can survive with minimal pruning and watering.
Plant winter-flowering Clematis like the Clematis Winter Beauty somewhere fairly warm and sheltered, and you’ll be rewarded with beautiful pendant bell flowers that bees just love.
If you can, plant near a south facing wall to make the most of the winter sunshine. Plant in September and you’ll see flowers around or just before November.
These varieties of Clematis also work in containers, and can be potted at any time during the year.
Although Ivy may seem like a pest of the plant world, it’s the perfect snack for autumn and winter bees. In fact, the University of Sussex found that, during September to October, 89% of pollen pellets brought by worker bees to hives were from ivy.
This vigorously-groeing plant doesn’t have to take over your garden. Look for ivy varieties which are smaller and slow-growing, and cut back regularly to stop them from propagating or damaging your other plants or nearby structures.
Sarcococcas, like the Sarcococca confusa Winter Gem, is extremely easy to grow. This sweet scented plant is, for some reason, not all that popular these days – but it produces wonderfully healthy, green foliage all year round.
During late winter and early spring, you’ll see beautiful white blooms pop up on your Sarcococca, attracting bees of all sorts.
Perennial plants to make your garden bee friendly in winter
Blooming in late winter to early spring, Snowdrops are an excellent source of nutrition for bees at a time when food is scarce.
To achieve the perfect golden nectar for your local bees, plant bulbs as soon as possible after purchasing. Make sure your soil is moist, but well-drained. These flowers do well in a partially shaded area, but apart from that, they’re quite hardy.
Little Violas are basically mini Pansies, and when you get up close you realise they have a lovely sweet fragrance, not to mention nectar for the bees to enjoy!
Suitable for beds, borders and containers, these flowers make a colourful addition to any garden.
Pansy are easy to grow, and they are very hardy plants., perfect for British conditions!
Daphne plants, such as the Daphne Odora Aureomargina, produce beautiful, highly scented blooms – ideal for fuzzy flying insects!
These deep rooted plants are best suited to areas with good drainage, as they don’t take well to being waterlogged.
Odora is a particularly great choice for cooler areas, and is quite hard in a sheltered garden.
Hyacinth is a much loved winter garden flower. The Woodstock variety in particular is easy to grow and produces a reliable plant.
Its colourful, bulbous flowers produce a powerful scent, attracting many different types of wildlife, especially bees!
Make sure your nectar buffet is well-stocked all year round with this handy advice! Keep checking in on the QVC Hub for more articles on how to get the most out of your garden – click here!