5 ways to help pollinators

Bees in the garden at Mr Straw's House

We've started our own wildflower meadow, and are working on cutting less around the estate to leave more for pollinators. We've come up with a few ways you can help pollinators where you live.

1. Grow, don't mow

Leave a portion of your garden grass uncut and let the dandelions, clovers and thistles flower. You might have considered them weeds, rather than flowers, but together they can be quite beautiful!

Bees love wildflowers
Bees love wildflowers
Bees love wildflowers

2. Plant pollinator friendly plants

Whether you're a keen gardener or don't have a garden, you can still support pollinators by planting pollinator friendly plants in your garden, in pots or windowboxes. Annuals like cosmos, perenials like bellflower and even herbs like rosemary, lavender and sage are all great sources of food. Note that traditional bedding plants like gerianiums and begonias have very little pollen.

3. Grow your own

Your garden fruit and veg plot needs pollinators to provide seeds and fruit - the perfect system. Apple blossoms, blackberry bushes, runner beans, strawberries and tomatoes are all pollinator friendly.

Busy bee facts and figs

  • In Ireland, we're home to 98 types of bee
  • From this number 77 are solitary bees
  • Some solitary bees can nest in boxes but 62 of the types prefer to mine underground

4. Make a home for a bee

The commercial bee homes are great, but don't forget about the mining bees. If possible, leave a patch of bare earth somewhere flat and sunny on a southern or eastern facing bank. This is the perfect spot for a solitary mining bee.

5. Reduce pesticide use

If possible, remove weeds in your garden manually, or if necessary try spot treatement of weedkiller rather than blanket spraying. Spray after sunset on a dry, still day (easier said than done!)

Sit for a moment in the garden and spot the bees
A bee surrounded by brightly coloured flowers in the garden at Castle Ward
Sit for a moment in the garden and spot the bees

We've joined up with the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan who have put together great information and data on helping pollinators, and the facts cited here are taken from "Gardens: actions to help pollinators", produced by the National Biodiversity Data Centre. Visit www.pollinators.ie to find out more, and www.rhs.org.uk/perfectforpollinators for a full list of pollinator supporting plants.