As a home educating parent, nature is high on my list when it comes to learning and curriculum. My children learn best through hands on experiences, so being outdoors in their garden and exploring the environment around them is so important. Whether they want to study the stars, handle mini beasts or paint their own masterpiece of the trees and plants, I always push for outdoor experiences.
As a family (and I mean myself too!) we follow a planned nature curriculum (Exploring Nature With Children– Affiliate Link). Each week in the curriculum is a set topic that we dive into and find out all we can. From the Harvest Moon to the anatomy of worms, I’ve been amazed at everything we’ve learnt (did you know that leaves are always red, brown and purple, not just in the Autumn? As the chlorophyll is needed to let them live the rest of the year, the green just shows as most prominent! – It’s magical)
One of the topics we’ve studied recently is bees. We loved learning about the parts of a bee, the different jobs that they do and especially an experiment where you become a bee and get pollen from a flower (It involved cheesy crisps and food experiments are always best!) We learnt so much during this week (Did you know bee pollen is different coloured depending on the flower or plant it was collected from?) and as we hit the midpoint of summer we decided now is the best time to turn our garden into a bee sanctuary and get some much needed Vitamin D from the summer sun.
It’s so important to save bees because they play a critical role in our ecosystem and teaching this to children early is a great way to help support the change.
So now it was time to get the kids involved! Well I will start off by saying after creating a mini pond in the Spring, we were all ready for this challenge. We got to work and grabbed pen and paper while sitting outside over breakfast – making our most of the beautiful weather. It was a lovely surprise when a bee buzzed past the table, the girls were completely ready!
After lots of ideas (and a few cups of tea for mum), here are our top 10 tips on how to make your garden bee friendly!
1.Plant A Range Of Flowers
There are so many great flowers for bees, but the best tip is to start with a simple pack of wildflower seeds. They’re easy to plant and they are easy to grow too – perfect for those of us who don’t have a green thumb! It’s also a great idea to plant different flowers that bloom in different seasons so there is always a selection available.
2. Skip The Pesticides
Skip out on the pesticides and herbicides for the plants in your garden. Once the plant is contaminated, the product is likely to reach the bees and kill them. (It’s a good idea to check plants before you buy them too)
3. Keep The Weeds!
Earlier this year before bee week we made dandelion cookies with the first dandelions we noticed. They were delicious, but later on during bee week we learnt that these plants, that we call weeds, are exactly what the bees need to survive the start of spring.
4. Create A Place To Stop For A Drink
This is a great tip even for those who don’t have a garden and just have a patio or small balcony. Grab a small shallow plant pot and fill it with stones and water, the bees can land on the stones and stop for a much needed drink.
5. Leave A Section Of Your Garden Unattended
Such a simple task this one too, but leave your garden to grow! Long grass, compost heaps and hedgerows all make great places for bee’s to make their nests.
6. Plant A Border
Create a great area with fruits and vegetables for yourself and border it with native flowers. Not only will you improve the pollination of your crops but you’ll support bees and other garden pollinators too.
7. Build An Insect Hotel
You could always purchase an insect hotel if you don’t want to create you own, but this activity is so simple to do and is a great way at getting the kids involved. Not only will an insect hotel help the bees, but it will be a great home for other creatures too. It’s also a great place for the kids to study any other mini-beasts that are living in the garden. There is a great example here on the WWF website of how to build a bee hotel.
8. Use The Little Space You Have
Many of these ideas are perfect for those who have a big garden, but what about if you have a small space? It’s not a problem, you can help bees keep hydrated with a pot of moss outside. Just keep it moist and the bees can safely stop and suck out the moisture. Creating a moss bee and fairy garden is a super fun activity for children.
9. Help Any Tired Bees You See
In the heat we’ve had recently it’s particularly important to help tired bees. Those that are on the ground not moving need a little bit of support to keep going and make it home. Simply mix of 2 tsp of white granulated sugar with 1 tsp of water and put it on a plate or drip it on a flower. This is a great way to give a tired bee a little pick me up. (Just make sure the solution isn’t deep so the bee doesn’t drown.)
10. Install A Hive
This ones not for everyone but would be a great project to work on with the children. Take some time to learn how to become a beekeeper and install a hive into your garden, It’s a really great way to give bees a home and they might let you get a sweet treat too!
You can start your project off by looking at the book Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees or another of the great selection of gardening books at The Works and with this great list of ideas, there are plenty of little projects that can be completed inside or out. So what are you waiting for? Get your summer holidays planned out and get your garden bee friendly!
*This is a collaborative post and contains affiliate links, all ideas and opinions are my own*