How to Create a Bee-Friendly Space

Provide shelter, forage and a water source

There are a range of ways that you can give a helping hand to pollinators in your area even in a small space. If you are keen to ensure your garden, balcony or window box is pollinator friendly here are some tips and ideas from our team. 

Small space? Build a bug hotel

Bees love sheltering in clover, dandelions and long grass but, if leaving areas of your garden wild isn’t for you or you don’t have much space, build them a bee hotel instead.

Simply fill a wooden box or old plastic drinks bottle with hollow twigs, bamboo canes, pine cones and drilled logs, and position it on a self-facing wall. The best bit? Other pollinating insects will love it, too.

Download our guide to building a bug hotel.

Now to fill it.

For solitary bees. Opt for hollow stems – think old bamboo canes, large straws, blocks of wood with holes drilled into them.

For ladybirds. Bundles of dry sticks and twigs make cosy hibernation spots.

For lacewings. Roll up corrugated cardboards and place it inside something waterproof.

Download our guide to positioning your bug hotel for success.

Still sounding like too much hard work?

  • Leave some bricks (the ones with holes in) lying around your garden, or fix them to a south-facing wall – mason bees will love sheltering in the gaps.
  • Buy one online – we actually sell our bespoke bug hotels. They’ll be coming very soon to our online bft shop. Until then, drop us an email, to register your interest.
  • Don’t tidy your garden/outside spaces. That’s right. Heaps of dry leaves, loose bark, pine cones, stones and dead wood make healthy habitats for wood-boring beetles, centipedes, beetles, woodlice, spiders and more.

Seasonal plants that pollinators love

Spring flowering

Summer flowering

Autumn & Winter flowering

Other ways to help

Garden organic

Chemical pesticides can poison bees and other wildlife, as well as potentially harming humans too. Instead, manage pests with the natural practice of companion planting: lavender helps to deter aphids; calendula repels whitefly, borage prevents tomato hornworm and thyme will keep roses free from blackfly. And remember, say “No to the Mow”. Leaving areas of lawn uncut allows pollen-rich clover and, yes, dandelions, too, to establish, both of which are much desired food sources for bees. You could even scatter these patches with a native wildflower seed mix.

Download our guide on how to make your own wildflower seed balls.

Provide a water source

Being a bee is thirsty work. Bees need water to make food for their young, as well as using it to keep their hive cool and humid. One option is to leave out a shallow bucket or saucer to catch rainwater and float corks or leaves on the top to give bees something to land on.

Download our guide for five safe ways to provide drinking spots for bees.

Support your local beekeeper

Chemicals on the nectar and pollen of plants can be carried back to the hive, so they could eventually end up on your toast! Know exactly where your honey has come from by buying from an independent beekeeper. Opt, too, for raw honey (much of the honey available in supermarkets is pasteurised and processed) to maximise the nutritional content.

Download your check list for creating a wildlife garden.

Practise guerrilla planting – with care

We’re not suggesting you do anything that might get yourself in trouble but imagine pavement cracks if they were scattered with some native wildflower seed mix or crevices overflowed with violas and creeping thyme. Or sunflowers growing out of neglected plant pots outside your local supermarket. You might discretely plant some native spring bulbs next to bus shelters or alongside footpaths. Guerrilla planting is about thinking outside the box.

Click here for more ideas of how to transform overlooked land into bee-friendly spaces were you live.

Share seeds and saplings

Sown too many seeds and ended up with too many? Wouldn’t it be great if, at the corner of your street, there was a place where you could leave your surplus plants for other residents to pick up and enjoy. This might be as simple as a secondhand cupboard given new life as a swap box; or did you know unused phone boxes make excellent miniature greenhouses in which seedlings can grow.

Get inspiration for how to share your seed and sapling surplus. COMING SOON

Welcome wildlife at home (even if you don’t have a garden)

Secure window boxes to sills and fill them with flowering herbs such as mint, chives, thyme, rosemary and oregano. Place plant pots either side of your front door and fill them with pollen-rich plants – erysimum is good bang for its buck with flowers from March that just keep on coming, and hebe is another strong option (opt for blue or purple flowering varieties). Not much space? How about a hanging basket of ivy and scabius?

Download our step-by-step guide on creating a bee-friendly hanging or window ledge basket. COMING SOON

How to Green a Bigger Space

The Bee Friendly Trust also offers greening consultations for stations, organisations and businesses with larger area of land that could be transformed into wildlife habitats. Download our Guide to Greening for Beginners and contact us if you’d like to arrange a site visit with one of our team or to find out more.

While you wait, you may be interested to read:

How to create a Bee Friendly School

How to enjoy a Bee Friendly Pub

How to make a Bee Friendly Station

How to host a Bee Themed Event