If you’re a keen gardener, you probably have a lot of bee-friendly plants in your garden so are hopefully seeing a lot of honey bees and bumble bees for example. Bees need people like you, as their numbers are declining for a variety of reasons including, for example, changes in agricultural techniques and the trend towards more hard-landscaping and fewer plants in a lot of gardens.
We’ve had a few queries from customers recently about bees getting trapped in their greenhouses. Unfortunately, whilst bees may be attracted in through a small gap, for example when the greenhouse autovent has caused the windows to open in warm weather, they don’t often manage to find their way out the same way. Bees can be useful, for example in pollinating tomatoes, but they usually need help to make their way back to their colony. If left in a greenhouse for too long, they will keep banging into the glass trying to get out, and will die.
Here’s a tip we came across a while ago and have used ourselves. Check your greenhouse regularly (you’re probably doing that anyway) and if you see any bees inside try opening the greenhouse door and prop it open with a potted flowering plant, something bees like, then put another one slightly further away – something to entice the bee to come out! If you have some bee friendly plants planted in the ground close to your greenhouse door, so much the better.
Sometimes bees don’t come out of their own accord, so you might need to physically remove them. Our tip for this is to use a glass and a piece of card. When the bee lands on a flat surface, place the glass over it, then slide the card underneath, pick it up carefully from underneath, take it all outside (closing the door behind you!) then remove the card so that the bee can fly free.
Coincidentally we’re seeing a lot of bumblebees going under our shed at the moment. It’s the first year we’ve noticed it ourselves, but it is quite common for bumblebees to make nests under sheds. They don’t bother us at all, and in fact we feel quite pleased that they’ve chosen our shed to make their home for a while and like watching them. Whilst we can usually only see up to 10 bees at any time, we think there may be a few hundred under there in total. Bumblebees don’t live long, so by autumn they’ll probably all be gone and we can decide then whether to block the hole up or leave it for bees to use again in future years.
As gardeners, we all understand the important role bees play in pollinating our plants. There are things you can do to create potential nesting sites for bees and we’ve found a lot of useful information on www.bumblebeeconservation.org including advice on making your garden more bee-friendly.
There’s also some advice here from the Royal Horticultural Society.