As pollinators, bees, butterflies and insects play an essential role in our gardens. They transfer pollen from one flower to another, fertilising plants so they start forming fruits and seeds. 70 of the top 100 most popular food crops are pollinated by bees, and they pollinate 80% of all flowering plants on Earth!
Unfortunately, bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects are under increasing threat due to pesticides, parasites and climate change – but we can help them by using responsible gardening practices, planting flowers to attract them and providing them with shelter.
So, what can you do at home to help encourage these important pollinators to frequent your garden?
- Plant flowers: Bees are drawn to bright colours, particularly blue, white and purple, so planting bee friendly flowers in your garden will attract bees to your garden and provide them with the pollen and nectar they need to survive. Flowers such as Calendula, Cornflower, Poppy, Nemophila, Marigold, Lavender and Alyssum should see your garden become a hive of activity. Herbs such as Sage, Rosemary, Basil, Thyme and Mint are also favourites. Native bees, many of which are stingless, prefer native flowers so Swan River Daisies are a must.
- Eliminate the use of harsh pesticides: Insecticides are rarely selective in what they kill, by spraying for bad insects, you’re more than likely going to kill the good insects too. A large number of common plant pests can be managed using companion planting and by encouraging beneficial predator insects and parasitoids into your garden. By creating a favourable habitat for the beneficial insects, you will have a better chance of controlling the pests. If you must spray, look for insecticides that are more natural in nature, and use them sparingly.
- Provide shelter: Protect your bees from predators and encourage them to stay in your garden by providing them with a haven they can call home. Bees like to nestle into small gaps and be protected from the rain. Bee houses have become increasingly popular as they offer a range of little hidey holes for Bees to seek shelter in. Butterflies do not like wind, so houses that shelter from the wind will see butterflies hang around your garden.
- Water: Just like any living organism, insects need water, so supplying an insect friendly water source in your garden will help keep them hydrated during the long hot Aussie Summer. Bees can’t swim so make sure you include a little float for the bees and butterflies to land on as they drink. A rock placed in a shallow dish of water is a good idea.
With the world’s bee, insect and butterfly populations needing protection, Mr Fothergill’s is focused on producing products that will help increase the bee and beneficial insect population to keep them pollinating our crops far into the future. That’s why we have produced this range of Bee, Butterfly and Insect houses and Bee and Butterfly attracting flower mixes, so you can encourage these little pollinators into your garden.