As spring arrives, vital pollinators begin to awake from their winter slumber. Bumble bees, solitary bees and others wake after a long hibernation, desperate to find nectar.
There is precious little of it around this time of year, and if they don’t find a source quickly, they can unfortunately die.
So please help them by planting vital sources of early nectar in your garden.
Crocuses provide both lots of pollen and lots of nectar. They are also one of the first flowers to appear in spring.
So it is no wonder that bees absolutely love these colourful bulbs.
Even better than this, bumble bee queens often sleep inside crocus flowers when they close up for the night. They are literally a bee hotel!
Primrose can provide another early source of food for hungry bees.
Our native primrose, Primula Vulgaris, is the best choice if you want to help the bees.
This native wildflower is easy to grow and, as well as helping the bees, adds early colour to an otherwise bland garden.
Open, single-flowered hellebores are perfect for bees. Bumble bee queens adore these flowers as they provide vital life-sustaining nectar and pollen to help establish the next generation of bees.
Helleborus × hybridus is a great variety to grow if your main focus is helping bees.
One of the earliest flowers of the year, appearing from January onwards. I love seeing them appear, as it is a sure sign that spring is rapidly approaching.
As they are usually the first flower to appear, they are absolutely essential for any pollinators that might be awaking from hibernation a little early.
Cherry Plum Tree
If you have the room, then consider growing a cherry plum tree.
Prunus cerasifera is one of the earliest flowering trees around, blooming in March.
The bees absolutely love the flowers; you get a whole heap of plums in the summer!
Despite the frankly awful name, Lungwort is an attractive small flower with unique, spotted foliage.
This perennial plant flowers in early spring and helps to feed a wide variety of different bees.
This sets it apart from many other early spring flowers that only provide nectar for a specific bee species.
Another spring flower bulb that is perfect for bees is the grape hyacinth, so named because the flower resembles a bunch of grapes.
They are effortless to grow and spread freely, meaning they can provide a reliable banquet for hungry bees year after year.
The flowers are very nectar-rich and a good bunch of them could save a hungry bee’s life.
Snake’s Head Fritillary
This native wildflower is remarkable. Its bell-shaped flower is gorgeous in its own right, and the checkerboard colouring is also fantastic.
Not only are they wonderful to look at they are easy to grow.
Then, of course, bees also love them, and because they flower from March, they provide a vital source of early nectar.
Winter Aconite is a member of the buttercup family, and as the name suggests, this perennial actually flowers in winter.
More specifically, it flowers typically between February and March, making it a genuinely early flower.
As such, it can often be the only food for bees in a large area, so it is essential to help them sustain themselves after long winter hibernation.