THE TRIBUTE GUIDE TO ATTRACTING BIRDS AND BEES TO YOUR GARDEN

Blog by the Two Thirsty Gardeners. 

If you are anything like us, you’ve probably found yourself aimlessly staring out of the window for long periods in the past few weeks, so here’s a few ways of enticing birds and bees into your garden to give your eyes something pleasant to rest upon. Wildlife spotting will lift your spirits, and the birds and bees will help pollinate your garden – a double win!

 By taking a few simple steps, you can attract a wide range of species for you to spot on your daily ‘Lockdown Lookout’…

Birds
Grab yourself a birdfeeder. It does not have to be fancy or expensive (a plastic pop bottle pierced with holes and speared with a wooden spoon will do the job), it’s what goes inside that count. Dangle it from a suitably shady tree, away from any shrubbery that could act as a staging post for cat ambush. Different foodstuffs* will attract different types of bird species:

  • Dish out black sunflower seeds for bluetits, greenfinches and chaffinches.
    Coat tits, great tits and wrens will flock for a beak-full of peanuts. During springtime, whole nuts can pose a choking hazard for chicks, so crush them up first before dishing them out.
  • Dried mealworms will attract long-tailed tits, mistle thrush and starlings (serve them on a saucer, but prepare your nostrils for an unholy stench as you crack open the packet).
  • Goldfinches are especially partial to protein-packed black Nyjer seeds.
  • Fat balls are great for the winter months, but avoid hanging them out in spring and summer. These greasy treats will soften in the sunshine, causing the fat to smear on and gum up birds’ wings and beaks.

Bees

Solitary bees can be encouraged by providing them with a safe dwelling. You’ll find a variety of posh looking bee houses in garden centres and shops, but it’s easy enough to make your own. Just select a nice slab of untreated timber and drill a selection of holes between 2mm and 10mm wide. Position your bee block in a sheltered position at a height of around 1 metre. The addition of a simple roof will help keep the occupants dry.

Bumble bees both ‘browse-pollinate’ (they visit a variety of flowers) and also ‘buzz-pollinate’ by squeezing their hairy bodies into large flowers and vibrate their muscles that causes the pollen to drop. Here’s a few plants that will help you lure them in…

  • Bees will busy themselves visiting the bell-shaped blooms of the common foxglove.
  • Apple blossom is a particular springtime favorite (wasps prefer to wait for cider).
  • Both bees and butterflies will swarm all over a nice purple Buddleia but just be aware that it’s a prolific grower that will require constant pruning to keep in check.
  • Good news for the reluctant gardener! Bees love wild plants such as dead nettle, clover and dandelion, so keep a corner of your yard deliberately uncultivated to encourage them.

* Lucky residents of Cornwall simply need to hold a half-eaten pasty aloft in order to attract a swarm of lovely squawking gulls.