How to create your own bee-friendly garden

A bee-friendly garden favours flowers in white, blue and purple. Picture: RHS/Neil Hepworth

A bee-friendly garden favours flowers in white, blue and purple. Picture: RHS/Neil Hepworth

Published May 20, 2021


By Kay Montgomery

Cape Town - Grow indigenous and exotic flowers to supply nectar and pollen throughout the year.

Aloes and early flowering trees and shrubs, such as wild pear (Dombeya rotundifolia), the forest elder (Nuxia floribunda), sweet thorn (Vachellia karroo), buffalo thorn (Ziziphus mucronata) and weeping sage (Buddleja auriculata) provide forage for bees in winter.

Planted early, Iceland poppies are a great source of pollen for bees.

Honey bees pollinate fruit and nut trees (almonds, macadamia, citrus, peach, plums, pears and apples); vegetables (cucumber, squash, zucchini, watermelon); berries; herbs (thyme, marjoram, chives, origanum, lavender, borage) and flowers.

Fynbos plants are a valuable nectar source.

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A bee-friendly garden favours yellow, white, blue and purple flowers, such as alyssum, borage, felicia, gazania, lavender, polygala, protea, rosemary, sage, salvia, scabious, sunflower and thyme.

Gardeners can help the bees by choosing bee-friendly plants for city gardens. Picture:Lukas Otto

Flowers often have nectar guides that are invisible to the human eye that reflect ultraviolet light, signposts directing bees to the source of pollen or nectar. White flowers absorb ultraviolet and appear blue-green to bees.

Provide the bees with a shallow water source and add small stones as landing pads. Picture: Kay Montgomery

Bees have different tongue lengths. Some bees prefer the flat, open flowers of the daisy family, while others visit tubular flowers of agapanthus, fuchsia, gladiolus, tree fuchsia (Halleria lucida), lion’s ear (Leonotis leonurus), lavender, salvia and watsonia.

Aloes varieties provide sustenance for bees during the autumn and winter months.Pictured, krantz aloe (Aloe arborescens). Picture: Kay Montgomery

Plant flowers, preferably scented, in large clusters in your garden, on your verge and in pots on the patio.

Bees need a shallow water source year round with small stones as landing pads to prevent drowning.

Do not use pesticides or fungicides in or near a bee garden.

Some bees prefer open or flat flowers where access to the nectar is easy. Picture: LukasOtto

The spots on the foxglove flowers are called nectar guides. Picture: Lukas Otto

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