Beekeeping is a fantastic hobby, but it is a labor of love and not necessarily for everyone. Happily, there are things that everybody can do to help both native bees and European honey bees – such as planting flowering plants, leaving some bare dirt patches around the garden un-mulched, allowing last season’s leftover stalks to lie, and installing pollinator houses.
European honey bees pollinate a third of our food crops, making a huge contribution to our food supply chain, our economy and the broader ecosystem, so the more we can help them do their thing, the better off everyone is. European honey bees will feast on a range of flowering plants, but they do have preferences.
Like humans, bees love herbs. And they’re great to plant as they’re handy in the kitchen and around the house too. And there are many beautiful flowering shrubs and trees you can plant which will have nearby bees waggle-dancing with joy.
Bees are also attracted to many food plants. The great thing about planting some citrus, strawberries or a passionfruit vine is the symbiotic benefit. The bees get their pollen and nectar, and the plants produce bigger, healthier, better formed fruit in greater abundance.
Bees looooove thyme. It’s a one-stop shop for foragers, providing high yields of both pollen and nectar.
Give it good drainage, and it will prosper in most climates. You can even use it on paths and as a lawn plant. It’s also a delicious culinary herb. Popular throughout the Mediterranean because it makes for super-yummy honey, neighbouring beekeepers will love you if you plant this.
Bees love blue and violet flowers best, especially the many species of lavender you can grow at home. Like thyme, it produces an abundance of both pollen and nectar.
A beautiful plant to grow, you can use sprigs to scent your home and nothing’s nicer than being downwind from a lavender bush on a sweet, breezy summer day.
Sage costs a fortune at the shops, so planting plenty of it in your yard or on your balcony is fantastic for the home cook. It also happens to produce flowers that are among the honey bee’s very favourites.
They go crazy for it! When they find some they will do a dance so the rest of the colony knows where the party is.
We have more than 1,500 species of native bees in Australia – ranging from larger bumblebees to smaller native bees. Some live in colonies, while many work and live a solitary life. There are both ground and twig nesting varieties. Not surprisingly, many native bees prefer native plants!
Most of the native bees in Australia are solitary and they come in all shapes and sizes. Essentially, a pollinator house is a structure which accommodates solitary nesting native bees by providing cavities in natural materials for them to live in. You can make your own, from a very basic design (drilling some holes into
a block of wood) to as complex and creative as you like.