Bees'ness As Usual

World Bee Day - Wednesday 20th May


Bees play an integral part in the survival of our eco-system. It’s important that we as humans contribute towards their survival after all, without these buzzing little workers we wouldn’t be left with much of a chance.

Chewton Glen Estate Manager, Darren Venables knows a thing or two about creating glorious gardens to not only look beautiful, yet will also attract wildlife and in particular, the bees themselves. With over 70 hard-working beehives at Chewton Glen, Darren and his team have ensured there are plenty of plants for the bees to pollinate all year round…

“Since we first decided to keep bees at Chewton Glen we have had to think carefully about what we plant in the grounds.  You cannot keep healthy bee colonies of bees without a large amount of readily available food and water for them throughout the year. 

One of the first things we had to do was to look at the Estate and establish what flowered at what months and ensure that right throughout the year there was something in flower for the bees.  We also had to start thinking about the bedding plants, elaborate double flowered flower heads were replaced with plants such as Single Dahlias that are very open and provide an easily accessible food source for the bees.  

The new perennial bed we have planted around the kitchen garden for instance, before I designed it we looked at what varieties were available that could provide food for the bees and then worked out the design from there, completely different than how you would usually design a garden but it is the way we run the gardens at Chewton Glen, everything is based around creating an Eco system of bees, pollinators and wildlife.

One really good example of this is the Limnanthes we plant around the bases of the trees in the orchards, the plants attract hover flies to feed from them, they then eat the aphids which attack the fruit trees because they have been attracted to this area, this way we have a natural pest control and eliminate the need for spraying chemicals just through giving the planting some careful thought.”

If you’re looking for ways to make your garden more environmentally friendly, here are Darren’s top 5 ‘bee friendly’ plants to grow:

  1. Lavender
  2. Verbena bonariensis
  3. Limnanthes douglasii (poached egg plant)
  4. Echinacea
  5. Jerusalem sage