Should You Be Keeping and Encouraging Bees in Your Garden?

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Of all the insects to invade our gardens, bees usually have a very positive reputation thanks to their ability to transfer pollen between flowers and even facilitate the production of fruits and vegetables. They are far more important than you might realise and their presence in your garden is often a good sign of things to come.

Thanks to their fluffy exterior and rather fat bodies, bees can look very innocent and you may be tempted to reach out and touch them. But should you really be keeping bees around and encouraging them to stay, or is there a limit to how many bees there should be in your garden? In this post, we’re going to take a deeper look at the role of the bee in your garden and if there are any concerns that you should keep in mind.

Identifying what the bee actually is

There are many different species of bee such as the White-tailed Bumblebee and the honey bee. Bees usually follow the same kind of function and are generally very social and will mind their own business. However, it can be surprisingly common to mistake a bee for a wasp. The two look very similar with black and yellow stripes, and they both come from the same insect family. As such, people can often mistake bees for wasps or vice versa. Wasps are much more aggressive and they can sting multiple times, whereas bees will die if they use their sting. However, wasps are still beneficial in a garden. They are natural predators to other insects and are important in a balanced ecosystem.

In short, it can help if you learn to identify what a bee actually is and what they look like compared to wasps and other insects. This can help you tell between them and will change the way you approach certain insects in your garden. While you should generally leave all insects alone to do their thing, there may be times where you need to cull their numbers because they’re getting aggressive or because they are actually dangerous. But in the case of most bees, you can just leave them alone and they’ll be a benefit to your garden.

Are you worried about bees stinging you?

Bees rarely use their stingers. Bees will only resort to using their stinger if they feel threatened. As such, it’s important not to show aggression towards bees and you should also leave them alone in most cases. You can help bees out now and then if they’re stuck behind something or have flown into your house by accident. However, do your best not to aggravate them or attract unwanted attention. Just leave them to their business and observe if you want to, but don’t disturb their nests or stand too close to a hive as this can be seen as an act of aggression.

So if you’ve recently moved into a new place and have noticed more bees than before, don’t worry so much. Bees are very common in all gardens and you shouldn’t worry about there being “too many” bees. Leaving a beehive close to your garden is perfectly fine and you can often leave them alone. An exception can be made if the bees start to get very aggressive, but this is fairly rare and as long as you don’t provoke them, you should be perfectly fine to coexist with them in your backyard.

Can you help bees in your garden?

You can! There are a number of little things you can do to help the bees in your garden. This can improve their efficiency and will help pollinate more plants, leading to a much healthier garden.

You can start by making a bee-friendly garden. This means having bee-friendly flowers such as lavender and bluebells, and it also helps to have bee-friendly trees and vegetables. If you plan to grow some kind of crop, then you should also avoid using pesticides as they can be extremely toxic to bees. If you’re choosing flowers to plant, then try and stick to plants with fewer petals as these can be confusing for bees to navigate.

You also don’t want to get rid of all the weeds in your garden just yet. Leaving some weeds for dandelions and thistles can be helpful to bees because they’re full of nectar. This attracts bees to your garden and can also provide shelter for the insects. You can even leave a source of water for the bees, such as letting some water pool near your home or even leaving a small tray out for them to drink from.

Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/Wycp1fC2Rcc (CC0)


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