Bees – and especially bumblebees – need our help. In the UK, there are 24 species of bumblebee but only eight are commonly found in most places. According to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust most of these species have declined greatly in recent years, and two have become extinct in the UK since 1940.
This is bad news for bees, of course – but it's not great news for us humans, either. We rely on the contribution of bumblebees to pollinate a range of commercial crops – strawberries, apples, tomatoes and peas, for example. Without these amazing insects helping out on UK farms, the cost of some fruit and vegetables could rocket, as farmers become forced to find less cost-effective means of pollination. So it makes sense to do all we can to help.
With bumblebee populations crashing, they are relying more heavily on our gardens for food. So one of the best things that gardeners can do is create a bumblebee feeding station. Planting a range of nectar-rich shrubs, perennials and annuals to offer a constant supply of nectar from early spring to late autumn will attract bumblebees – and all sorts of other wonderful pollinating insects, such as butterflies, honeybees and hoverflies – to your patch.
But which plants are best for bees? Here's a round up of some of our favourites – plant just a few of these and your garden will soon be buzzing with life!