Bumblebees and garden centres - Bumblebee Conservation Trust

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Bumblebees
and garden centres
Bumblebees are struggling due to a shortage of flowers.
With over a million acres of gardens in the UK there’s really no
excuse for this shortage. With this in mind, garden centres and
the Bumblebee Conservation Trust have a common goal - to fill
more gardens with flowers.
As agriculture has intensified throughout the 20 th century, the
UK has lost over 97% of its wildflower meadows. This has
resulted in the extinction of two bumblebee species, and great
declines in most of our other species. Because of this, some
bumblebee species are now much more common in urban and
suburban areas than they are in the wider countryside.
Bumblebees need our support - life would be much less
interesting, and our gardens far less productive, without their free pollination service.
Garden centres are ideally placed to encourage bee-friendly planting.
Many garden centres are already helping to promote insect-friendly gardening, which is great. We
hope that this pack will encourage your garden centre to start or expand the work you are doing
in this area.
Sadly, many of the species and varieties of plants purchased by gardeners are simply no good
for bumblebees. Some species don’t produce any pollen or nectar, and others have flower
shapes that are too difficult for bumblebees to feed from. Many common bedding plants fall into
this category but gardeners are unaware of this.
We have created this leaflet to help
garden centres to better understand
what bumblebees need and how
simple it is to help them by promoting
certain plants.
There is a huge demand amongst
gardeners – from absolute beginners
to seasoned pros – for more
information about the plants that help
bees in the garden. We hope that you
will find this leaflet useful, and that
your customers will go away with
more plants for bees. And, of course,
that the bees go away with more food!
The bumblebee blacklist
Below is a list of common garden plants that are not good for bumblebees. It is ironic that some
of these plants were originally bred from plants which are useful for insects. For example, the
brightly coloured primroses are mostly useless for bees, but the native wild primrose (Primula
vulagris) is often used by pollinating insects.
Begonia
Busy Lizzie - Impatiens
Livingstone daisy Mesembryanthemum
Primrose (except native
wild primroses)
Geranium - Pelargonium
Pansy
Hydrangea
Petunia
Scarlet salvia / Salvia
splendens
Turn your customers into bumblebee champions
Spring flowering plants
As bumblebees start to emerge from hibernation, so do many gardeners. Spring is the time when
bumblebee queens establish their nests and raise their first offspring. It is an energy intensive
time so it is vital that there be a ready supply of flowers available for them to feed from. Garden
centres have a prime opportunity to ensure bumblebees survive at this time of year by
encouraging shoppers to plant early flowering blooms.
The plants listed below are all early blooms and will help support young nests and struggling
bumblebee queens:
Berberis
Dicentra
Pieris
Bluebell
Flowering currant
Pussy willow
Broom
Hellebore
Rosemary
Bugle
Lungwort
Skimmia
Comfrey
Mahonia
Viburnum
Crocus
Muscari
Winter heather
Fruit trees (e.g.
pear, plum, apple)
Fruit shrubs (e.g.
blackcurrant,
blackberry,
redcurrant,
raspberry,
strawberry)
Early and mid-summer flowering plants
In early summer the bumblebee nest will be growing larger and the queen will be laying more
eggs from which bumblebee workers will hatch. These workers will collect food from flowers, to
feed to larvae in the nest. The growing nests require yet more food, so it is essential to have beefriendly plants at this time of year.
Allium
Cistus
Hebe
Rose
Aquilegia
Comfrey
Hollyhock
Rosemary
Betony
Cosmos
Honeywort
Sage*
Bistort
Dead nettle
Jacob’s ladder
Solomon’s seal
Campanula
Escallonia
Lilac
Thrift
Cardoon
Foxglove
Mallow
Thyme
Catmint
Geranium
Mock orange
Wallflower
Ceanothus
Globe thistle/
Echinops
Penstemon
Weigela
Poppy
Wisteria
Chive
Late-summer flowering plants
In late summer, the bumblebee nests produce new queens. It takes a lot of food to make a single
queen, so it is vital that there are flowers available at this stage. Late summer is also mating
season, which requires yet more energy. The following are good flowers to promote at this time:
Achillea
Echinacea
Nasturtium
Scabious
All peas and beans
Fuchsia
Phacelia
Snapdragon
Aster
Honeysuckle
Phlox
Sneezeweed
Basil
Hyssop
Poached egg plant
Stonecrop/ sedum
Cardoon
Lavender
Potentilla
Sunflower
Cornflower
Lupin
Rudbeckia
Teasel
Dahlia
Marjoram
Russian Sage
Toadflax
How your garden centre can help bumblebees
Not everyone who gardens knows which plants are best
for bees. You can help rectify this by:
Ensuring that you stock a good selection of beefriendly plants.
Creating displays of bee-friendly plants to show off
the variety of shapes and colours available. Don’t
forget to include plants that can be grown from seeds
and bulbs.
Labelling the bee-friendly plants in your store.
Displaying our posters and leaflets and promoting
our ‘Bee kind’ gardening app: beekind.bumblebeeconservation.org
Educating staff about bee-friendly plants so that they have the knowledge to help customers.
Staff could even give talks on bumblebees using our presentation pack.
Become a Corporate Member
Corporate membership helps to pay for conservation activities that create flower-rich landscapes
in the areas where the UK’s rarest bees are located. It also helps to fund educational activities
about the importance of bumblebees and flowers.
As a member you would receive lots of fantastic benefits in return for your support, including: a
membership certificate for display in your garden centre, your logo and a link to your website
from our website, use of a sponsorship statement in your corporate communications, multiple
copies of our Buzzword newsletter, and use of selected images from our photo library.
Membership rates depend on the size of your organisation. If you are interested in corporate
membership, please contact [email protected]
Help raise awareness and funds for bumblebee conservation
Most gardeners are keen to support wildlife in their gardens, especially pollinating insects.
These individuals are often happy to extend their support by making a charitable donation or
purchasing a badge. You can help bumblebees and Bumblebee Conservation Trust by:
Hosting a bumblebee badge box: Our badges feature four different bumblebee species and
would make a great addition to your till points. Please get in touch with us about placing a saleor-return order for a badge box or two!
Hosting a donation can: If space is restricted, perhaps you could host a donation can instead.
If situated at the tills, your customers might just drop in some of the spare change from their
purchases. Every bit helps...
Displaying our membership leaflets: Perhaps your shop or cafe has an area for displaying
leaflets? By displaying our A5 membership leaflets, you will be helping us to grow our
membership and supporter base.
If you are interested in helping in any of the ways mentioned above, please email
[email protected]
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