Activity: Bee-friendly places

Bees in your garden

You can make bees happy in your home by making a bee garden. Bees like plants with nectar, which is found in flowers. A big variety of flowers is best for your garden bees. Remember to plant things which grow in all four seasons. For example:

  • apple trees grow in Spring,
  • lavender grows in Summer,
  • honeysuckle grows in Autumn and
  • ivy grows in Winter.

Click here to find out more about which plants bees like.

How do bees see

When you think of a bee, how many eyes do you see? Most people will think of the two large eyes, either side of its head. But did you know, bees also have three smaller (simple) eyes on top of their heads? These simple eyes detect sunlight, so bees can find their way around.

The big eyes are called compound eyes – they help the bee see colours and movement. Bees see colours a bit differently to us; they do not see the colour red, but they can see ‘UV’ light, which humans can’t see without a UV lamp. UV lamps are the blue lights used by police to see evidence at a crime scene.

Bees are attracted to things that look brightly coloured to them. Have a look at the garden picture below – which is the most brightly coloured bit? Now click the bee icon, and look again – which bit is the most brightly coloured to the bee?

Why not have a go a drawing your own garden from a bee’s view? Remember, bees can’t see red or colours with red in them. This means, for a bee: Red looks black, Orange looks green and yellow looks greeny-blue! You can download an accessible version of this interactive here.

Building a Bee Hotel

Most of the bees in the UK are solitary bees. This means that they do not live in big colonies, like bumblebees and honeybees. Instead, a female bee makes her own nest. In the nest is one egg, and a supply of food (pollen) for the new bee. Solitary bees do not make honey, but they are very good at pollinating (moving pollen between flowers) because they spend so much time collecting pollen for their young. It is important we look after our solitary bees, so they can pollinate plants that we eat, like many fruits.

Solitary bees can make their nest in wood, walls or the grass. They very rarely sting, unless they are squashed or threatened, and they do not swarm. By creating a bee hotel, you can help these bees find somewhere safe to house their young, and help keep bees in the UK! Instructions to make a bee hotel are below. When you have created your bee hotel, hang it up in your garden, somewhere sunny and close to bee-friendly plants! Once you have put up your bee hotel, have a go at identifying which bees come to visit you.

Follow this link to see a bee hotel created by The Wildlife Garden Project in action!

You will need:

  • Adult help!
  • Instructions for ‘How to make a bee hotel’ > Download instructions
  • A 2-litre plastic bottle, or a waterproof tube/pot at least 18 cm long
  • String or wool
  • Scissors
  • 15 cm tubes 7-10 mm across (cut bamboo cane, paper straws or wooden/paper bee tubes)
  • A small amount of air-dry clay