A Buzz-worthy Garden with Manawee Garden Centre

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As the world’s most prolific pollinators, bees are essential for supporting food security and biodiversity – but numerous factors have placed these tiny superheroes under threat. Manawee Garden Centre’s Simon Van Roy gives Melanie Rosettenstein the lowdown on how to create a BEE-autiful bee-friendly garden.

The big buzz about bees is that there are fewer of them than half a century ago and, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, they are responsible for a third of the world’s food production. That’s a big stat for a tiny insect. While bee numbers are dwindling, the good news is that there is something we can do about it. And that is to plant a bee-friendly garden that will become a sanctuary where these diminutive powerhouses can thrive. 

A bee-friendly garden needs several elements to ensure it becomes a buzzing haven for these plucky pollinators. These include flowering plants, fruit, and vegetables to provide an abundant supply of pollen and nectar, a safe bee habitat like a bee hotel, and some wild meadow-like corners where less mowing allows the growth of low-growing lawn plants like clover and daisies.

In addition to ensuring the plants in your garden are suitable, the layout is just as important. Simon Van Roy from Manawee Garden Centre says plants should be strategically clumped in blocks to provide the bees with optimal access. The garden also needs to be as sheltered as possible. Simon says a bee hotel is the best way to create a safe space for solitary (non-honey-producing bees that have left the hive) or native bees and other pollinating insects to nest and do their important work.

Simon says, “Bee hotels are ideal for solitary bees that are on their own but typically nest close to each other.

“These hotels also come with a sachet of pollinator-friendly flower seeds to help attract bees and other important insects to your garden,” he says. “So just like when we stay at a motel and still need to go out for a meal, planting flowers around a bee hotel provides bees with the sustenance they need.”

To set the bee hotel up, simply hook a piece of wire through the back of the hotel and attach it to a tree trunk or branch, or just place it in a sheltered section of the garden.

Simon says his top flowering plants that are a must for creating a garden that’s alive with the hum of busy bees are:

Lavender – Bees are most attracted to blue or violet and because it’s brimming with pollen and nectar, lavender is ideal to plant in your bee garden. This wonderful plant likes dry conditions and once it has taken, it adds a wonderful scent to your garden.

Swan River Daisy – This low-growing Australian native is also blue and is easy to grow in any corner of the garden. Because it is a meadow flower it’s perfect for foraging bees.

Buddleja – This fast-growing and free flowering perennial can be a mass of flowers at any time of the year, and comes in a variety of colours too which makes it perfect in a range of garden types.

African Marigold – Hardy and long flowering, Marigolds are great for bees and they are extremely effective at deterring pests such as white flies, cabbage worms, and mosquitoes.

Alyssum – This beautiful companion plant with its abundant, delicate white flowers is perfect for your vegetable garden and for bringing the bees back time and time again.

Calendula – These large self-seeding yellow and orange blooms make a bold colour statement in your garden, plus they flower throughout summer making them a real bee magnet.

While the winter months have arrived, now is a good time to start planning a BEE-autiful garden that is brimming with bee activity when spring comes.

“If you want to get your bee-garden going earlier, be sure to add winter flowering plants like Argyeranthemum daisy, Grevillea and Kangaroo Paw,” Simon said. “These  flower during the cooler months so can fill the pollen and nectar gap, keeping those busy bees occupied until spring arrives.”

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