Bumble Bee Garden

I have a largish garden behind an old workshop which I don’t visit often except to cut the grass. It has 3 mature silver birch trees (which I planted more than 20 years ago) an ancient plum tree, a fig tree, lots of bramble and a variety of other trees/plants. I’m in the process of eliminating most of the bramble! Hate bramble!

I want to turn this garden into an exclusive bumble bee garden/refuge which I’m sure would help all other pollinating species. I’m not considering bee hives, just a natural garden meadow-ish habitat.

Ideally I would like this to be undertaken by others who would know exactly what to do - I do not have green fingers. I would pay for all materials but not the labour. Anyone know if there are clubs or societies that would undertake something like this? I would obviously help with some costs which might be unavoidable.

Alternatively if I have to pay for garden landscapers to do this does anyone know of any reliable enterprises around the Saintes 17000 Charente Maritime area, to help me to narrow the search?


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What a lovely idea, see if there are any local apiculteurs (in the pages jaunes) they will be able to advise on what bees like and what does well where you are.

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I found this website quite useful


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Don’t knock brambles…we have a pot of bramble honey from a local beekeeper. Delicious and very fruity (and more expensive that straightforward stuff).

I think what you do will depend on how much maintenance you are prepared to do in the longer term. Unless of course you can find someone who will take the whole garden on, but unlikely for bees with no hive. The simplest is to let the grass area slowly develop into a meadow, so leave it uncut until July and then cut one of twice more. And then fill in round the edges with mixed flowering hedge species - bees love some of the shrubs too.

Having a perennial flower garden does take more work.

Here’s another page from bee conservation trust

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Thank you Véronique, Bettina and Jane for the advice and the conservation links. I have already skimmed the conservation advice which listed so many different plants and different bumble bee species that led me to ask my original question, with a plea for help!

I’m quite happy to carry out any long term maintenance after planting - but it’s the decisions required that are needed to establish such a habitat. Soil type, exposure, sunny areas, shaded areas. Which plants go where? There’s one bumble bee species that requires winter flowering plants. And so on.

I know I could put all this together myself following the advice of bumble bee conservation websites, but I’m lazy!!! I was hoping that there might be an environment society that could use my garden for studying the decline of bumble bee populations and ways to help them survive in peoples’ private gardens.

I know how to plant lavender so I could start there. Wouldn’t mind breeding bumble bees in captivity as well in my adjacent old workshop. I’m not a gardener but want to put my garden to good use and this idea seems to me to be a good one. May have to get my finger out!

I’m not knocking bramble Jane - I love picking blackberries during summer, but bramble covered two thirds of the garden in above photos. It was a dense prickly jungle of thorns which I couldn’t see over the top of or even get into the open bit of garden that was left. I’m an expert now on clearing unwanted bramble with secateurs, garden shears, rake, pitch fork, trailer, the déchèterie and then a sit-on lawn mower to finish off. Left a great feeling of achievement!

We have a bank of lavendar bushes that are in the sunniest spot of the garden for most of the day.(facing SW) They attract bees of different types and also a magic collection of butterflies. Pruning is done each year usually in February, other than that no work at all.

Eleagnus makes a very good hedge, evergreen and resistant to cold, heat and wind. Likes the sun. Not fussy about soil types. It has small white flowers that the bees adore. The hedge literally buzzes at flowering time. Plant it and it just grows! Not too close to the boundary though if you don’t want to trim it back every year. It’s the only plant in our garden that has stood firm and not died back (or died off) in recent hot dry summers.

I have a lavender hedge they love, it and rosemary, ornamental crabapple, buddleia, lime trees and acacias seem the most popular things in my garden, going by the buzzing.

Buddleia, Lilac, Lavender, Jasmine. Favourites with bees.

Winter flowering - Mahonia (prickly though), Hellebore, Crocus, early flowering Heather, all loved by insects coming out of hibernation. You’ll need to do a bit of homework. Get a large piece of paper, draw a measured outline of the plot you want to dedicate to bumblebees and plot the sunny/shady/dry/wet areas…
get yourself to a garden centre with an advice desk or a pepiniere and show them the
paper and ask for suitable shrubs, trees & perennials.
A sunny grass area can be turned into a meadow, but needs cultivating first i.e. rotovating and then you will have to re seed with a mixture of grass and wildflowers.
This needs just a path mown for access and a mowing and removal of the cuttings.
Wildflowers do best on poorer soil…
Gardening is not for lazy people - you end up with a ‘sleeping beauty’ hedge of brambles

See if you have a CPIE locally and ask them


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I would really advise you to chat with local bee-keepers and make use of the link which @JaneJones provided.

You’ll be given good advice and probably make some new friends locally… plus your successful garden will be doing a great service for the buzzing population and us too. :hugs:

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Thank you everyone for your encouragement. I shall start the ball rolling by planting in a bank of mixed lavender and add 6 or so plant pot bumblebee nests around the garden, as advised by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, as shown in attached!

Including a lot of Bumblebee homework!

They are the most fascinating creatures, so don’t forget to take out a deck chair and sit and wait and watch for them going about their busy days.

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I have a big soft spot for Bumblebees. Coupled with the decline in their numbers I’d like to do my bit.

I have a closeup nature camera which can video what goes on once a nest is established/located. Also long focus camera from my deckchair for when they are buzzing around the lavender!