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. Bees pollinate 70 of the top 100 most popular food crops, and 80 per cent of all flowering plants on earth!
So, what can you do at home to help encourage these important pollinators to frequent your garden?
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. Native bees, many of which are stingless, prefer native flowers so Swan River daisies are a must. Herbs such as sage, rosemary, basil, thyme and mint are also favourites.
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.
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 don't like wind, so houses that shelter from the wind will see butterflies hang around your garden too.
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.
So why not make a bee-line for your local Bunnings to get started on your bee and butterfly haven.