Planting for bees in October

October seems to have arrived so quickly - summer seemed to flash past.  The trees are turning, and I love the smell of leaves crunching underfoot as we walk the dog.  The garden is looking distinctly tired though there are still a few bees around.  There were a last few honeybees on the Michealmas daisies a few days ago.  Apparently, honey bees will emerge to forage any time the hive warms up to 10 degrees C, so maybe I should try to find some things which flower in winter too, to help them out on the warmer days. 

I'm quite disappointed by how few flowers I've got in the garden at this time of year.  Apart from the daisies, I've only got the buddleia still flowering.  I'm planning on putting some sedum in, the ones I've seen in the area are absolutely submerged in bees on a sunny day - very popular.  

Helping bees in winter

But apart from flowers, I've been trying to find ways to help the bees survive over the winter.  I've been cultivating a small patch of nettles, hoping to get some caterpillars and I've been building bee hotels.  Bumblebees have nests, but solitary bees like to find a little hole to lay their eggs in and my hotels have bamboo bits, stuffed into old tins which are, apparently, ideal for this, in a wooden frame.  I am so bad at carpentry that they look really awful, but I don't think the bees will mind!  I would love to have a bumblebee nest so I've made a compost heap in a shady corner behind the shed.  Fingers crossed they'll find it!

October 21, 2019 — Helen Livingstone