Can you imagine summer without the sight of bumblebees buzzing from flower to flower, or a summer lunch without juicy tomatoes or strawberries, asks the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust’s Kate Titford?

If we don’t help our wild bees, this could be a glimpse of the future. Our bees are in trouble.

Wild bees pollinate flowers, but also many of our favourite food crops, equivalent to every third mouthful of food we eat.

But they’re losing the habitat and plants they need to survive. In the countryside, 97 per cent of lowland meadow has already been lost and the dramatic decrease in suitable habitats isn’t just confined to rural areas.

Gardens used to act as ‘green corridors’ for wildlife to move around towns and cities, and into and out of urban areas, but are increasingly being paved over or even covered with fake grass – with no real plants at all.

Helping bees is easy though. Anyone can take action to help wild bees, whether you have a wall for vertical planting, a window box, or back garden. It’s easy to plant a bee haven and fun choosing between bee-friendly beauties like borage, foxglove and honeysuckle.

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There are 15 million gardens in the UK. Put together they cover an area that’s seven times the size of the Isle of Wight. If we all made our gardens more bee-friendly it would have a huge impact on our wild bees.

So what should you plant in your garden? Bees need a supply of pollen and nectar throughout the year, from late winter/early spring when some emerge from their winter hibernation right through until the end of the year.

Plant a selection of perennials, such as bergamot, globe thistle and knapweeds, for pollen through the summer. These will provide bees with food year after year. Add a few annuals each year, such as borage, cornflower and sunflower for variety.

Later in the autumn, hebe and ivy provide food when summer plants have gone to seed. Then make sure you’ve got a few winter-flowering crocuses and hellebores to help bees as they emerge on warmer winter or early spring days in need of food after their winter hibernation.

Did you know there are around 250 species of bee in the UK? Just one species of bee, the honeybee, actually makes honey. Then there are bumblebees which are familiar to most of us, and many different kinds of solitary bee.

Solitary bees are fantastic pollinators for our garden plants. They don’t live in colonies, but instead the females make their own nest without any ‘workers’ to help them. Some make their nests in gaps in the walls of old buildings or dig holes in bare ground (look for small piles of earth with a tiny hole in the middle).

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You can help some species of solitary bee in your garden by providing a ‘bee hotel’. Cut lengths of old bamboo and tie together, or drill long holes in old pieces of wood. Hang somewhere sunny and sheltered and, in time, the bees will move in.

The exposed cliffs at BBOWT’s Dry Sandford Pit nature reserve near Abingdon are a haven for many types of solitary bee, which burrow into the soft, sandy layers. Look for the ‘honeycomb’ of tiny holes.

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You may see the UK’s newest bumblebee in your garden – the tree bumblebee. These only arrived in the UK around 16 years ago but they’ve now spread throughout much of England and Wales. They have a distinctive ginger-coloured back (thorax) and black and white abdomen. Some make their homes in old bird nest boxes as they prefer to nest above the ground.

Help ensure our bees’ survival by making your garden bee-friendly this summer. You’ll be joining people across the country and making a real difference to our bees.

Find out more about bees at