Encouraging bees into your garden

Five ways to help bees:
Irish Version of Site
  1. Clumps of bee-friendly plants in sunny places will be more attractive than plants that are scattered or in shade. See here for a list of bee friendly plants. Try to plant flowers and shrubs that bloom at different times during the year.

  2. Double or multi-petaled cultivars of plants are best avoided as they may lack pollen and/or nectar, or it may be difficult for bees to reach them. Also avoid pollen-free cultivars of some plants, such as sunflowers, that are grown as florists’ flower.

  3. Use pesticides sparingly. Avoid spraying open flowers and if possible do spraying in the evening when bees are less active.

  4. Become a beekeeper. Details can be found on the Galway Beekeepers Association and The Federation of Irish Beekeepers website.

  5. Provide nest sites for solitary bees. Some will nest in hollow stems, such as bamboo canes or herbaceous plant stems. Hole diameters in the range 2-8mm are required.  Cardboard nest tubes can be bought in garden centres. Holes 2-8mm diameter can be drilled in fence posts or logs. Place these nest sites in sunny positions. Some solitary bees nest in the ground, either in bare soil or short turf. They will find their own nest sites, so tolerate the small mounds of soil deposited by the female bees when they excavate their nest tunnels. Bumblebee nest boxes can be purchased but they are often ignored by queen bumblebees. They prefer to find their own nest sites down tunnels dug by mice or in grass tussocks.


Will I get stung?

Getting stung by bees in your garden is unlikely, as long as you treat bees with respect.

All female bees have stings, but solitary bees are not at all aggressive and only using their stings in self-defence if roughly handled.

Similarly bumblebees and honeybees are unlikely to sting while they are going about their business of collecting nectar and pollen if they are left alone. Avoid disturbing bumblebee nests or standing too close to a bee hive unless you are wearing a beekeeper’s suit.