Bees and beneficial insects are an organic gardener’s best friends, because they perform essential jobs in the garden. In a highly biodiverse environment, a wide variety of these insects live alongside each other and contribute to keeping your plants healthy and productive.
Some are pollinators, transferring pollen from the male parts of a flower to fertilise that flower or another of the same species. Some are predators, such as ladybirds, hunting and consuming insects that damage crops. Some are parasites, laying eggs that consume damaging insects.
Beneficial insects can sometimes be bought and released into the garden, but they need to be released under very precise conditions. It’s more sustainable (and cheaper) to create an environment they want to live in. In this activity, you will follow a few simple steps to try to maximise the numbers of bees and beneficial insects in the garden, by providing them with a few of their favourite things. You may need to choose which elements you follow, depending on the current season and how many people are involved in the activity.
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What to do
Make a water source
1. Place a handful of pebbles or stones inside your saucers or bowls so the stones touch the lip of the dish.
2. Place the dishes in spots around your garden that are protected from the elements and top them up with water. Make sure the stones break the surface of the water so insects can get out if they fall in.
Provide places to hide
1. Ensure the beds you want to mulch are well-watered, then place mulch around (but not touching the stems of) the existing plants to a level of 3–5 cm.
2. Sow your ground-cover seedlings into your ready-to-plant beds.
3. Cut your fruit tree prunings into lengths of about 30–40 cm.
4. Bundle the prunings together and tie them up with string at both ends.
5. Wedge these bundles into sheltered spots around the garden.
Provide sources of food
1. Choose your packets of seeds and scatter the seeds gently across your chosen garden beds. Water in well.
2. Take note of any new insect visitors!