Posted in Bees and Butterflies

Blooms Bring Bees and Butterflies to your Garden!


Start of Spring day and time to talk about bees and butterflies! Many of Britain’s bees, including rare wild bees, and also butterflies are becoming fewer, because of intensive farming and building on flowery meadows where they feed. Bees are vital because they fertilise all our food crops, but they are also affected by air pollution, pesticides, herbicides, and parasites such as the verroa mite.

But you can help by planting a wildflower patch in your garden, and leaving dandelions in the spring as they are an important food source for the first bumble bees.

Wildflowers help the rarer bees in trouble as they tend to prefer our native flower species.

However any flowering plants which have pollen-rich flowers will help the bees in your garden, especially if you take the trouble to:

Choose different flower shapes and flowering periods from early spring to late autumn, as different bumblebees have different length tongues – long-tongued bumbles love honeysuckles and foxgloves. It is wonderful to see a quivering foxglove bursting with bumble.

Try not to get plants which have many petals or ‘double’ flowers as bees and butterflies find them difficult to get pollen from – some even have no pollen or nectar.

Ask you neighbours if they have any cuttings of good bee and butterfly attracting plants, and try collecting seeds to share from your own.

Ask at your nearest garden centre for bee and butterfly-friendly plants!

And if you don’t live in the UK but do live in Ohio, US, Jefferson County Pollinator Action Group and Liz Brownlee (yes, same name as me!) from the Oak Heritage conservancy are hosting a plant sale this spring, and residents from around southeast Indiana are invited to participate.

Lastly, never, ever use herbicides or insecticides. Insects like greenfly can be removed in all sorts of plant and bee friendly ways, including soapy water.

This is a poem from Reaching the Stars, Poems About Extraordinary Women and Girls (by me, Jan Dean and Michaela Morgan), about Rachel Carson, who was born in 1907 in America. She foresaw the harm that chemical insecticides would cause, and the books she wrote helped get DDT, a very harmful pesticide, banned. Her writing also sparked the beginnings of the environmental movements.


For the Beauty of the Earth


She wrote with love

of all creation,

the need for nature



and showed that

nature is a ring,

relying on every

living thing,


the foxglove

where the bee is heard,

the glittering bug

that feeds the bird,


the beetles that

break down the dung

so cows can graze

where grass has sprung;


The spraying of pests,

Rachel foresaw,

would kill their

predators and more.


Imagine this –

a silent spring

no creature stirs,

and no birds sing.


The bees don’t buzz

no flowers thrive,

she warned that

those bugs left alive


after spraying

by poison war,

would be much stronger

than before,


weevils, woodworm,


needing much

more toxic killers.


Rachel Carson,


the world’s first



Poem and image © Liz Brownlee