Updated: 8 December 2023
If you are wanting to attract bees into your garden, it's easy to forget about trees, shrubs and hedgerows! Yet they provide a number of benefits relating to food and shelter for different species.
Firstly, trees, hedgerows and shrubs can provide nesting opportunities for bees, which may make their nests in abandoned rodent holes found at the base of a shrub, or in crevices and holes within the bark of a tree trunk, or hollow twigs.
Secondly, they also provide excellent
foraging potential. A
decent sized shrub may be densely covered in nectar and pollen-rich
This means foraging is
efficient, requiring less energy for the bees to fly about in search of
sources of food.
Even the hollow stems of shrubs can be useful to bees. Tiny solitary bees may overwinter or make nests in them.
For example, the tiny harebell carpenter bee, Chelostoma campanularum is only about 6 or 7mm in size and can easily be mistaken for a little black fly. It may create its nests in hollow stems of plants (or even in woodworm and beetle holes).
Bumble bees meanwhile,
may take cover in piles of fallen leaves.
The lesson is, please take
care when tidying your garden. Perhaps hollow shrub stems could be
collected and placed in a corner of the garden or behind the shed rather than burned, for
Furthermore, as the bees pollinate the flowers, the flowers develop into fruits (such as apples, plums, cherries or pears), berries (raspberry, blackberry and many more) and nuts (like hazelnut), which are then enjoyed by humans, but also birds and small mammals.
Animals and birds may additionally enjoy hips and waxy berries like cotoneaster and holly thanks to pollination of their flowers by bees and other insects.
For me, there is nothing better than to watch wildlife in the garden - it provides entertainment, wonder, and sometimes a bit of natural garden "pest control".
Remember that it may also be possible to underplant your trees and shrubs with yet more plants to attract to bees, such as crocus, snowdrops, Snake's head fritillary, bluebells, and other flower bulbs.
Flowering Currant (Ribes)
Alder (A. cordata; A.incana; A. glutinosa)
Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa)
Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis)
Hazels - Corylus (C. avellana, C. maxima) great trees for bees, especially for pollen
Bleeding Heart (Dicentra)
Winter Honeysuckle climber great for hedgerows (Lonicera fragrantissima and Lonicera purpussii).
Wild roses and Rosa rugosa
Wild cherry (Prunus avium)
Sour cherry (Prunus cerasus)
Joshino cherry (Prunus xyeodensis)
Bird cherry (Prunus padus)
Mountain ash (Sorbus)
Guelder rose (Viburnum opulus)
Cotoneaster - various species
American lilac (Ceanothus)
June Berry (Snowy mespilus)
Wayfaring tree (Viburnum lantana)
Hydrangea - certain species.
Read my page Winter Flowering Shrubs For Bees