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Nicola123 

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Hi all - I’m in the process of creating a bee friendly garden in UK (Hampshire) but although I’ve seen a few bees passing by, I don’t think there must be that much nectar on the flowers yet, as the bees are moving too quickly over them and don’t appear to be stopping that long to feed. I’m still planting though and waiting for more plants like borage which I’ve heard is able to replenish the nectar more rapidly. I’m wondering about setting up a feeding station to help bees a little more until the garden is more established (several flowers died due to frost). Should I used fondant or syrup? What kind of setup works best?BE1C390A-0B13-456E-B707-A8C8F61342CE.jpeg
 
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pargyle 

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Hi all - I’m in the process of creating a bee friendly garden in UK (Hampshire) but although I’ve seen a few bees passing by, I don’t think there must be that much nectar on the flowers yet, as the bees are moving too quickly over them and don’t appear to be stopping that long to feed. I’m still planting though and waiting for more plants like borage which I’ve heard is able to replenish the nectar more rapidly. I’m wondering about setting up a feeding station to help bees a little more until the garden is more established (several flowers died due to frost). Should I used fondant or syrup? What kind of setup works best?
No No No NO... please do not try and feed bees with any type of sugar in an open feeder - it's about the worst thing you can do - it will attract bees but you would be causing all sorts of problems - it will be a place where bee diseases and parasites will be passed on. You will also contaminate the honey that honey bees produce with sugar syrup - we beekeepers go to great lengths to make sure the honey our bees produce is real honey. You would not be helping.

You are doing the best thing by planting bee friendly plants ... bees are finding plenty of forage in Hampshire (I live there) - at present they are finding lots of tree blossom so being opportunists they will go to forage that offers them the best return for the energy they expend - which is probably why you might not see them on your plants at the moment. Stick with the planting and you will see bees come when they are ready ... a small pond or even a bowl of water with some stones in it and some moss is also good for insects as they will appreciate a source of water that they can easily drink from - and when they come they will spend more time collecting water so you will be able to watch them for longer.

Also look for plants that provide pollen and nectar early and late in the year - Crocus, Showdrops, Hellebores are great early forage for our bees in very early spring and winter honeysuckle, asters, verbena and anenomes are great autumn forage. Lavender has a long flowering season and will always attract pollinators.

And remember ... it's not just for bees - all pollinator species will appreciate what you are doing.


 

Nicola123 

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Thanks for your really helpful feedback. I began by looking at beekeeping websites and seeing discussions about how many bee keepers seem to feed bees - so I figured if I bought the same stuff as you buy to give bees a helping hand (wasn’t planning on making my own) that I could help them. I’m puzzled now why bee keepers feed bees but why I shouldn’t?! I do have a nice apple tree in blossom so I think you have a great point about them going for trees in bloom at the moment. I bought hellebores, lavender, crocus (died), bluebelles, thyme, coneflowers, snowdrops, butterfly bush, salvia, and much more - I’ve tried to buy flowers to cover the whole year to give them natural food throughout. Ive put down water with stones but didn’t think of adding moss? Why do you add moss? I’ve tried building an underground home for ground bees and finished sanding down bee houses (I chose ones that can be dismantled to clean to avoid bees getting sick - wood was rough though so also sanded to ensure it doesn’t damage their wings. They have a plastic viewing section but tempted to replace that with wood - while I’d like to view them I can’t see plastic is a good idea for the bees). I haven’t bought winter honeysuckle so I’ll look at that, thanks. Thinking of covering back fence with ivy for birds and bees. :)
 

Antipodes 

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Thanks for your really helpful feedback. I began by looking at beekeeping websites and seeing discussions about how many bee keepers seem to feed bees - so I figured if I bought the same stuff as you buy to give bees a helping hand (wasn’t planning on making my own) that I could help them. I’m puzzled now why bee keepers feed bees but why I shouldn’t?! I do have a nice apple tree in blossom so I think you have a great point about them going for trees in bloom at the moment. I bought hellebores, lavender, crocus (died), bluebelles, thyme, coneflowers, snowdrops, butterfly bush, salvia, and much more - I’ve tried to buy flowers to cover the whole year to give them natural food throughout. Ive put down water with stones but didn’t think of adding moss? Why do you add moss? I’ve tried building an underground home for ground bees and finished sanding down bee houses (I chose ones that can be dismantled to clean to avoid bees getting sick - wood was rough though so also sanded to ensure it doesn’t damage their wings. They have a plastic viewing section but tempted to replace that with wood - while I’d like to view them I can’t see plastic is a good idea for the bees). I haven’t bought winter honeysuckle so I’ll look at that, thanks. Thinking of covering back fence with ivy for birds and bees. :)
Are you sanding down the wood for ground bees?
 

E&MBees 

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Thanks for your really helpful feedback. I began by looking at beekeeping websites and seeing discussions about how many bee keepers seem to feed bees - so I figured if I bought the same stuff as you buy to give bees a helping hand (wasn’t planning on making my own) that I could help them. I’m puzzled now why bee keepers feed bees but why I shouldn’t?! I do have a nice apple tree in blossom so I think you have a great point about them going for trees in bloom at the moment. I bought hellebores, lavender, crocus (died), bluebelles, thyme, coneflowers, snowdrops, butterfly bush, salvia, and much more - I’ve tried to buy flowers to cover the whole year to give them natural food throughout. Ive put down water with stones but didn’t think of adding moss? Why do you add moss? I’ve tried building an underground home for ground bees and finished sanding down bee houses (I chose ones that can be dismantled to clean to avoid bees getting sick - wood was rough though so also sanded to ensure it doesn’t damage their wings. They have a plastic viewing section but tempted to replace that with wood - while I’d like to view them I can’t see plastic is a good idea for the bees). I haven’t bought winter honeysuckle so I’ll look at that, thanks. Thinking of covering back fence with ivy for birds and bees. :)
Hi,
Beekeepers normally feed their bees in the autumn once the honey crop has been harvested so the honey doesn’t get contaminated. It helps the bees to build up stores for winter. Occasionally if there is a bad winter, beekeepers will add fondant at a later date (New Year) to keep things ticking over. Not every beekeeper feeds their bees, some leave a portion of the honey harvest instead. When a beekeeper feeds their bees, the syrup or fondant is placed inside the hive of a particular colony. It stops disease spreading and other problems. I hope this helps.
 

Erichalfbee 

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I’m puzzled now why bee keepers feed bees but why I shouldn’t?! :)
Because beekeepers feed their bees INSIDE the hive where other bees cannot reach the food.
Pargyl's reply is spot on. Please do not open feed sugar of any description.

PS I see you have put in your profile that you have one hive. If you keep bees you will know exactly what we mean
 

pargyle 

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Thanks for your really helpful feedback. I began by looking at beekeeping websites and seeing discussions about how many bee keepers seem to feed bees - so I figured if I bought the same stuff as you buy to give bees a helping hand (wasn’t planning on making my own) that I could help them. I’m puzzled now why bee keepers feed bees but why I shouldn’t?! I do have a nice apple tree in blossom so I think you have a great point about them going for trees in bloom at the moment. I bought hellebores, lavender, crocus (died), bluebelles, thyme, coneflowers, snowdrops, butterfly bush, salvia, and much more - I’ve tried to buy flowers to cover the whole year to give them natural food throughout. Ive put down water with stones but didn’t think of adding moss? Why do you add moss? I’ve tried building an underground home for ground bees and finished sanding down bee houses (I chose ones that can be dismantled to clean to avoid bees getting sick - wood was rough though so also sanded to ensure it doesn’t damage their wings. They have a plastic viewing section but tempted to replace that with wood - while I’d like to view them I can’t see plastic is a good idea for the bees). I haven’t bought winter honeysuckle so I’ll look at that, thanks. Thinking of covering back fence with ivy for birds and bees. :)
I have a pond in my garden and the bees seem to prefer sitting on the moss at the side of the pond and sucking up water ... I also have purple loostrife around the pond which is a good bee plant - when the stems are cut back they like to sit on the cut ends and suck water up from them. There's no real need to sand down rough wood ...if the bees want it smooth they will smooth it. Ivy is great for autumn nectar but it may be several years before it gets to flower - I have a robin nesting in mine at present - really great plant for all sorts of wildlife. You are doing all the right things - thank you - keep it up.
 

Nicola123 

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Because beekeepers feed their bees INSIDE the hive where other bees cannot reach the food.
Pargyl's reply is spot on. Please do not open feed sugar of any description.

PS I see you have put in your profile that you have one hive. If you keep bees you will know exactly what we mean
Thank you - I’m planning on 1 hive but breaking myself in gently and I wasn’t able to select no hives but I wanted the best advice so now I know not to feed the bees. I knew coming here would help me.
 

Nicola123 

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No it’s for the bee house above. Prior to this I had one that the bees used but you can’t clean it for them so I’ll throw it - just wanted to make sure I’m not throwing it out before all the bees have gone as some holes are still filled? image.jpg
 

Nicola123 

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Also I have some holes in my garden that I discovered this morning- do you think they could be ground bees?4059CB1A-8049-4E95-B0FB-7C7C53C2DE1E.jpeg
 

Nicola123 

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I have a pond in my garden and the bees seem to prefer sitting on the moss at the side of the pond and sucking up water ... I also have purple loostrife around the pond which is a good bee plant - when the stems are cut back they like to sit on the cut ends and suck water up from them. There's no real need to sand down rough wood ...if the bees want it smooth they will smooth it. Ivy is great for autumn nectar but it may be several years before it gets to flower - I have a robin nesting in mine at present - really great plant for all sorts of wildlife. You are doing all the right things - thank you - keep it up.
Thank you - I’ve added some moss now! B649F440-2C64-4E95-B75D-9504597A3597.jpeg
 

Nicola123 

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I’m just starting to create a larger bowl of water for them too - early stages of decorating base of tray with stones but think I’ll put a ring of moss around the outside of design and make wings black and raised LOL 😂 image.jpg
 

Nicola123 

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Here’s the garden - not much to look at right now as most plants are small plugs but give it a year and I’m hoping it will be lovely 😊 (I’m new to gardening and all plants were chosen for pollinators).
9F2FB5EB-13AE-44D3-B940-D9A763E5ECBD.jpeg
 
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Nicola123 

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and what I hope are ground bee holes discovered this morning - about a dozen of them. 01D13026-4BBA-44F9-9334-46FE7A975A14.jpeg
 

Erichalfbee 

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You’re doing great. Yes those homes need to be smooth or the bees don’t use them.
You don’t need to clean the tunnels. The bees do it quite happily. I have a few bought and a few home made. They have been in use for ten years without cleaning and every year every tunnel is used.
 

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Nicola123 

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Thank you for your kind words. May I ask When is the latest you’d expect the bees to leave the bee house as some of mine are still full? Great photo! 😊
 

Erichalfbee 

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Some don’t emerge till June.
 
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