How do I attract Native Bees to my garden
Get to know your local native bees
Learning some basic information about your Australian Native Bee neighbors will help you to understand how you can help out. doing some bee spotting in the garden and you will be amazed by how many different bee species you will see.
Check your local library for books, search for workshops in your area, and look at Purchasing the Australian Native Bee Books they have loads of fantastic information. You will soon be drawn in by the beauty and intriguing behaviours of both social and solitary native bees alike.
Avoid using pesticides
Pesticides not only kill off pests, but they also kill beneficial insects such as bees. It is particularly important not to use pesticides when plants are flowering or when bees are likely to be flying because this puts the bees at greatest risk.
Make or buy bee hotels
This is a great DIY project where you can unleash your creativity. A hotel provides bees with an artificial nesting site and helps bee populations who have had their habitats destroyed by land clearing and urbanisation. Your hotel can be as simple or as complex as you choose.Use non-treated wood, provide some protection from rain, and drill some different sized holes for different types of bees to nest in.
Leave some undisturbed ground for burrowing bees
You may be tempted to tidy up every section of your garden to keep it neat but to support burrowing bees it's important to leave some undisturbed ground for them to burrow into to make nests.
When clearing for landscaping check for signs of native bees. Reed bees like to nest in pithy twigs of plants such as fern trees and lantana, while other bees may be nesting in old beetle holes or in the hollows inside large trees.
Plant bee-attracting plants in clumps or layers
Bees are drawn to flowers in clumps of one metre or more, so if possible plant your flowers in groups. Plants such as lavender, Dahlias, Marigolds,ever lasting daisy's and any of the salvias or borage are great plants to start with. Bees appear to be particularly attracted to the colour blue but enjoy a diversity of colours.
Plant Native plants and shrubs local to your area, such as grevileas, callistamons, leptospermium etc, these are fantastic plants to attract native bees and even birds.
Provide year round pollenBees require flowers all year around which suits most home gardeners. planting basil and coriander and letting it bolt (go to flower) provides a fantastic forage for bees year round. Go to your local nursery and pick something that is flowering each season
Image of Everlasting daisies: yaruman5 (Flickr)
Include native and exotic species of plants
Some bees prefer to stick to native Australian flowers but many will enjoy feasting from both native and exotic species so include a mix of both to your taste. Grow a varity of flower shapes and sizes to cater for small and large bees, and those with both long and short tongues.
Ensure you provide flowers in late winter/early spring
This is a time when bees require plenty of food so make sure you have some early flowering varieties of plants.
Provide Access to water
Some pebbles in a birdbath or some wet sand or small pebbles is a perfect source of water for bees. Open water can be a risk because bees often drown