Briony's Bee-B-Q (A Bee friendly mini-garden project)
Spring is finally here and so is the promise of some better weather here in the UK. That means it's time to plant those little packets of bee saving flower seeds we've been saving up over the autumn and winter!
I don't have a big garden, or many places to plant things, so I started to wonder what I could use to plant my flowers in. I saw some small plastic trough planters at my local Asda that were only £3 for two, which would be a great buy for anyone looking for something smallish and inexpensive. My local garden centre also had an amazing array of items to suit most budgets and space requirements. In the end I decided it would be better to re-purpose something I had or could find, rather than buying something new.
I decided to use an old neglected barbecue (or Bee-B-Q as I've decided to called it!) as a starting point for my little bee-friendly garden. It's quite tatty and a little rusty but I don't think the bees will mind! It was going to be thrown away by a neighbour, so I just asked if I could have it. They were more than happy for me to take it off their hands and save them a trip to the recycling centre!
I started by drilling holes in the bottom for some drainage. This will stop the bee garden becoming flooded in a downpour and allow any excess water to drain out. I drilled them in the corners and in a few random spots around the bottom of the barbecue. I'm hoping it will be enough holes, I was a bit worried about drilling too many and all the compost falling out of the bottom!
I bought the compost from the supermarket, it was £5 a bag or two for £9. I bought two even though one would be more than enough for this project. I'm sure the other bag will come in handy soon. I've seen smaller bags than this at the garden centre too, so if you don't want this much look around for a smaller bag.
I also wanted to make a drinking station for visiting bees, I found a clear plastic flowerpot and dish in a local garden centre. My initial plan was to paint the inside of the pot in bee attracting colours but after seeing how dried up and messy my paints looked, I decided to decorate it with some marker pens that I had instead.
After practising the cute little Just Bee logo on some paper I decided to just go for it and hope for the best, I also added some flowers, a little hive and some squiggly grass along the bottom. It's not a perfect work of art by any stretch of the imagination but I'm quite happy with how it turned out.
If you decide to do this, I should warn you that it was quite difficult to draw inside the pot, but I wanted the drawings to be a little protected from the weather. If you decide to make one yourself you could decorate it with whatever you have around the house or just leave it whatever colour your pot was when you bought it!
To get a little exercise I took a walk along the local beach to find some suitable pebbles to use as 'landing pads' for the bees. I don't want any of our bee friends to fall in the water and drown! If you don't live near a beach you could use marbles, polished glass stones or something similar. The bees will use these to stand on while they dip their little tongues into the water and drink.
I used some glue to attach the dish to the upside-down pot and put the pebbles inside the dish to push it down while the glue dried. I use some Gorilla brand glue that my Dad had, but I think you could use any glue that can stick plastic together.
I placed my drinking station in the middle of the Bee garden and arranged the pebbles so they fill the bottom but leave little gaps where the bees can drink from. Bees don't like clean tap water because it isn't what they are used to, they would actually prefer a dirty puddle to drink from! I used collected rain water from a dirty watering can. I'm sure the bees will love it!
Next I scattered my seeds across the compost, I had 5 packets altogether that I had saved up, so I hope this will give me some good coverage when they are in full bloom in the summer. I tried to sow them around fairly evenly but I wasn't too concerned about it. I figured bees would probably prefer a more natural and random wild-flower distribution! After that I sprinkled a little more compost over until it looked like all the seeds were covered and finished off by giving them all a good water.
Now I just have to wait patiently, pray for the sun, and hope that the rusty old barbecue turns into something beautiful and attractive for my local bee population. I'll be sure to update you all in the summer once the flowers have grown and the Bee-B-Q hopefully becomes buzzing with bee activity. I'm hoping we might see some butterflies too if we are lucky!
Until then, I hope I have given you some ideas and inspired you to create your own bee friendly mini garden in your own unique style with whatever you choose use.
Comment below and let me know your plans, I would love to hear about your exciting bee garden projects!
Have fun and bee good!