Jo Arnell explains why, in a world full of pesticides, making your garden a destination for bees provides them with the ecological haven they’re crying out for.

Insects are in crisis at the moment, their numbers declining at a frightening rate, so anything we can do to attract them into our gardens will be of benefit. In fact, our gardens are proving to be bastions of hope and protection in an inhospitable environment. The attention is on bees, because they are such vital pollinators for crops and without them our own existence would be under threat too. Our gardens are fast becoming a vital resource for them, providing food and shelter and hopefully safety from pesticides. The sight and sound of bees buzzing brings a garden truly to life and reminds us that a flower’s job is to attract pollinators, that their beauty has a profound purpose, intricately linked to the existence of the insects.

Foxgloves have spotted ‘landing strips’ designed to guide the bees into the flowers

Foxgloves have spotted ‘landing strips’ designed to guide the bees into the flowers

A honey bee and a tiny pollen beetle share a meal

A honey bee and a tiny pollen beetle share a meal

Allium atropurpureum

Allium atropurpureum

Echinops is a ‘bee magnet’ in late summer

Echinops is a ‘bee magnet’ in late summer

Flowers in the daisy family make great ‘landing pads’ for insects

Flowers in the daisy family make great ‘landing pads’ for insects

Chives and other alliums are nectar rich

Chives and other alliums are nectar rich

A honey bee collecting nectar from lavender

A honey bee collecting nectar from lavender

A lavender hedge will keep the bees happy for weeks

A lavender hedge will keep the bees happy for weeks

Hellebores are a great source of early nectar.

Hellebores are a great source of early nectar

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