The Plants for Bees and other Flower Visitors Workshop

On Friday the 25 July 2014 a workshop was held at the Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects (LASI) to teach beekeepers, gardeners and others how to  identify which plants are good for bees and other pollinators.

Plants play a major role in the life of insects, as bees and other pollinators rely on flowers to gather food in the form of nectar and pollen. One reason why there are now fewer insect pollinators is because there are fewer flowers. Having additional flowers on road verges, in gardens and parks is one way to help bees and other pollinators in urban areas and green spaces. Growing bee friendly plants in your borders does not mean you cannot have attractive and easy to grow plants in your garden, or that you have to spend more money.

Plant workshop attendees 3Workshop attendees take a look at plants in the LASI garden

Plant workshop attendees 2Workshop attendees examine Hemp Agrimony

Plant workshop attendeesCounting insects on flowers

The workshop consisted of a lecture by Professor Francis Ratnieks where participants were taught how to identify the main groups of pollinators, namely bees, wasps, hoverflies and butterflies. A run-through of the methodology of how to quantify insect visitors on wildflowers and garden plants as developed at LASI was also included. In order to determine which plant species and varieties are most visited by these groups of insects, the attendees were invited to participate in a demonstration to observe several different plants growing either in the LASI garden or in the close vicinity. A range of plants were inspected such as Perlagoniums, Purple Loosestrife, Hemp Agrimony and Borage. As expected the data collected showed that some plants are more attractive than others to insects, and that different species attract a different mix of insect types.

Both garden plants and wildflowers can provide a significant amount of nectar and pollen for a wide range of insects. Some plants such as figwort are better for wasps, whereas Bowles Mauve is great for butterflies. Hemp Agrimony, Eupatorium cannabinum, on the other hand is good for a range of pollinators.

Bumble Bee on Hemp AgrimonyBumble bee on Hemp Agrimony

Comma butterfly on EupatoriumComma butterfly on Eupatorium

Hornet Mimic hoverfly on Hemp AgrimonyHornet mimic hoverfly on Hemp Agrimony, Eupatorium cannabinum


Here is a video on how to identify flower visitors.

Here is a video on how to quantify variation amongst garden plants in their attractiveness to flower visitors.

Here is more information about our projects