March is here, giving us all the teasing signs of spring, warmer weather, and emerging wildlife. It’s a time of year where naturally you’ll want to begin to spend much more time outdoors and there’s plenty to do to ensure your garden looks its best this summer and that it offers the most for wildlife too.

Emerging Bees

Depending on how the weather progresses through March, you are likely to begin to see solitary bees emerging after a long winter, such as the hairy-footed flower bee (Anthophora plumipes) and red mason bee (Osmia bicornis). You may even see Honeybees venturing out in a bid to collect nectar and pollen to feed their young. Have a go at identifying any bee species you come across this spring using this handy link – ‘How to Identify Spring Bees’

There are a few things you can do in March to ensure bee populations in your garden get the best start to the season. Leave or even create areas of loose stonework, brickwork or rockeries as this is a great sheltering spot for Red Mason Bees. Many people are tempted to remove older fruiting trees but if you can leave them, do. Their aged bark provides crevices to shelter and feed as well as the benefit of nectar and pollen from the fruits and flowers. If your garden lacks any fruiting trees, maybe consider planting a small variety, maybe even a dwarf cultivar which will offer the same great benefits without requiring too much space. Nectar-rich planting schemes in spring can offer a real lifeline for pollinators such as bees. Look to improve your planting to include more of these plant types this month; the soil is warm enough and the damp conditions will get new plants off to a great start.

Our Recommendations: Nectar-rich plants for spring interest

Pussy Willow

Spring - Help feed queen bumblebees as they establish new colonies in early spring, by growing this small tree with fuzzy catkins. Its pollen and nectar also provide valuable food for Clarke’s mining bee and the Chocolate mining bee.

Apple or crabapple

Spring - Bees are major pollinators of these trees, especially the Red mason bee. The attractive white or pink blossom hums with a variety of species, helping to produce tasty fruit for us.

Lungwort

Spring - Low maintenance and spreads easily in the garden. Has attractive spotted leaves, and its deep blue and purple flowers are loved by the Hairy-footed flower bee.

Crocus

Spring - Adding a splash of colour to a lawn, spring crocus is often the first port of call for the emerging Hairy-footed flower bee and queen bumblebees. Bees often emerge covered in pollen and shelter inside the flowers overnight.

Marjoram

Spring - This aromatic herb bears some of the most nectar-rich flowers, with pinkish-white drifts coming alive with bumblebees, honeybees, leafcutter bees, and furrow bees.

Kale

Spring - Leaving some plants to ‘bolt’ and put out their yellow flowers will attract bumblebees, mining bees and honeybees to your vegetable patch.

Cowslip

Spring - The trumpet-shaped yellow flowers on stalks are evocative of old British meadows. The deep blooms are visited by the long-tongued Hairy-footed flower bee and Garden bumblebee. Plant in lawns for your own patch of spring sunshine.

Comfrey

Spring - A vigorous plant that is ideal for a wildlife corner. The flask-shaped flowers quickly re-fill with nectar, making comfrey highly attractive to bumblebees. The leaves can be made into green manure for fertiliser.

If you’d like some wildlife gardening advice or any garden design/build services, get in touch with us, the Wild Landscapes team: [email protected] or www.facebook.com/WiltshireWildLandscapes/