In the Spotlight- Bees

Dr Jane Bingham’s piece on the Bee’s of Drum.

Why are bees so important?

Bees visit flowers to collect nectar and pollen, which they use as food for themselves and their young. By moving from flower to flower, they transfer pollen and are vital pollinators of many types of plants. Successful pollination is essential for the formation of viable seeds and the cropping of most fruits and some vegetables.

How can I help the bees in my garden?

Sadly, there are fewer bees around these days and they need all the help they can get. Gardens are a fantastic resource for bees with their great diversity of plants and safe nesting sites. You can help by:

  • Providing a diverse range of nectar and pollen rich flowers throughout the year.
  • Including early flowers, such as Snowdrops and Hellebores, for bees coming out of hibernation.
  • Avoiding plants with double or multi-petalled flowers, which pollinators find difficult to access.
  • Avoiding the use of pesticides. Never spray open flowers.
  • Providing drinking water. Use shallow saucers of water with perches of small stones or marbles.
  • Buying or making nests for Solitary bees.
  • Becoming a Honeybee keeper. Contact Aberdeen and District Beekeepers’ Association ( for further information.

Which garden plants do bees love?

There are a huge number of plants to choose from, here are just a few examples:

For Spring

  • Amelanchier
  • Magnolia
  • Malus (Apple, Crab apple)
  • Prunus (Cherry)
  • Pyracantha (Firethorn)
  • Rhododendron
  • Ribes (Flowering currant)
  • Ajuga (Bugle)
  • Aubretia
  • Geum
  • Muscari (Grape hyacinth)
  • Narcissus (Daffodil)
  • Pulmonaria

For Summer

  • Berberis
  • Buddleja (Butterfly bush)
  • Ceanothus (Californian Lilac)
  • Cotoneaster
  • Crataegus (Hawthorn)
  • Escallonia
  • Hebe
  • Hypericum
  • Lavandula
  • Lonicera (Honeysuckle)
  • Rosa rugosa
  • Spirea
  • Achillea
  • Agastache
  • Allium
  • Aquilegia (Columbine)
  • Campanula
  • Centaurea (Cornflower)
  • Cirsium
  • Digitalis (Foxglove)
  • Echinacea (Coneflower)
  • Erigeron
  • Eryngium (Sea holly)
  • Hardy geranium
  • Helenium
  • Leucanthemum (Shasta daisy)
  • Lupinus
  • Mentha (Mint)
  • Nepeta (Catmint)
  • Origanum
  • Papaver (Poppy)
  • Phlox
  • Salvia
  • Scabiosa
  • Solidago (Goldenrod)
  • Stachys
  • Symphytum (Comfrey)
  • Thymus
  • Verbena

For Late summer/Autumn

  • Calluna (Heather)
  • Hydrangea
  • Anemone
  • Aster
  • Dahlia (single flowered)
  • Rudbeckia
  • Sedum
  • Veronicastrum

For Winter

  • Hamamelis (Witch hazel)
  • Hedera (Ivy)
  • Mahonia
  • Crocus
  • Eranthis (Winter aconite)
  • Galanthus (Snowdrop)
  • Helleborus

Who’s this busy bee?

We are delighted to welcome Aberdeen University student Andy Smith to The Mains of Drum Plant Area this summer. He is studying the bees that visit our garden centre and which of our huge variety of plants the bees are making a beeline for. He will write up his findings for his MSc Ecology & Conservation thesis later in the summer. We look forward to sharing the fascinating results of his studies.

What’s buzzing at The Mains of Drum Garden Centre?

Andy has spotted several different species of bumblebee in the Plant Area, including some lesser known ones, and a couple of busy queen bees.

What are the names of our bees?

Bombus hortorum (Garden bumblebee)

Bombus lapidarius (Red tailed bumblebee)

Bombus pascuorum (Common carder bumblebee)

Bombus pratorum (Early bumblebee)

Bombus terrestris (Buff tailed bumblebee)

Did you know that we have a Bee Garden in the grounds?

‘Bee’ inspired by our Bee Garden, which can be found at the front of The Mains of Drum building between our entrance and exit doors. This herbaceous border, planted in October 2011, uses plants specifically selected for their benefit to bees, and other pollinators like butterflies and hoverflies.