• Bees

Bee barrel and guide

Our bee barrel and guide is a great gift for a budding wildlife gardener. Hang the barrel in a sunny spot to provide nesting sites for solitary bees. And to help you identify what you see, we’ve included an identification guide to garden bees common across Britain and Ireland.

Although honey bees and bumble bees nest in large colonies, 90% of British bee species are solitary. Mining bees, mason bees and leafcutter bees excavate nests in the ground, old trees and cavities. Each nest is the work of a single female. Eggs laid in the summer hatch out as new adult bees in the following year. For the gardener, solitary bees are useful pollinators of flowers, fruit and vegetables.

Made from durable Forestry Stewardship Council timber, the bee barrel has holes carefully calibrated to attract beneficial garden bees. Simply hang the barrel to catch the morning sun, no more than 5 feet above the ground. Both nest sites and food are important, so try to provide flowers for as long as possible through the year. Spring-flowering plants like crocus, cherry plum and lungwort are useful sources of nectar in March and April. Later on leaving ivy uncut provides nectar into late autumn.

The FSC Bees guide includes 28 species of bees. As well as the ‘Big Six’ bumblebees, the guide includes mining bees, cavity-nesting bees and cuckoo bees. Beautiful colour paintings by Chris Shields highlight key identification features. Silhouettes next to each image show typical life size. Concise accompanying text covers key identification characters, plus flight period, habitat and range.