Window box ideas to encourage bees, birds and insects?
August 8, 2019 5:59 AM   Subscribe

What are some plants or resources we could grow or place in two small window boxes to encourage bees and insects, or even birds?

NB: we are in the UK if that's relevant

We have two well lit, south-facing windows with outside ledges about 3ft x 1ft in area. this summer we planted a bunch of wildflowers that brought in a lot of insects and bees and now that they've bloomed and died off we're looking to plants something new!

I was thinking of making a bee hotel with some old bottles and cut-up hose pipe, especially for the winter. What sort of plants/flowers could I place near a bee hotel to keep them fed and covered during autumn/winter? What other cool things could we do with the space? We're in a very leafy area near a large park so there's tons of insect and bird life around. We'd also love to be able to feed/house birds but I'm afraid the proximity of our living room to the windows might discourage them. All suggestion welcome, we're looking to get into botany!
posted by Chaffinch to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Bees are loving our lavender right now. It flowers for a lot longer than most plants in our garden. It doesn't flower over the winter but bees won't be around then anyway.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:57 AM on August 8 [1 favorite]


Bees build hives and you do not want one that close.

I grow mints, sage, thyme, which they love, and are useful. Maybe a wider range of flowers that will bloom at different times. Lavender is a good idea.
posted by theora55 at 7:38 AM on August 8


All types of bees seem to love the mint in my yard. It blooms for a long time, basically until a freeze.
posted by MexicanYenta at 8:52 AM on August 8


Solitary bees don't build hives - and in the UK the majority of bees are solitary. I have two bee hotels outside my kitchen window. Bees of all sizes take over the little compartments, fill them up with pollen and food and [after some biology stuff I don't understand] seal it up with a larva inside that next summer will hatch as a new bee.

But they hibernate or die off in the winter, so you don't need to think about feeding them.

For the winter months I'd suggest cyclamen in your window box, and also plant some grape hyacinth and dwarf narcissus bulbs for the spring.

Next spring plant lavender, verbena (not the bonariensis type which is very tall, but the smaller, very pretty verbena showboat (which comes in many colours, my favourite being mango) and calendula, all of which will attract bees and butterflies.
posted by essexjan at 8:59 AM on August 8 [4 favorites]


We have some clover in our yard that the bees are LOVING. It's a great cover crop that you can let fill in the blank areas of the box.
posted by hydra77 at 10:21 AM on August 8


Bees build hives and you do not want one that close.

Oh yes let's nip this in the bud so to speak. Essexjan is right, many bees around the world are solitary and do not build hives. They are also non aggressive and it would be perfectly fine to have them close to the house.

I'm in the US so will pass on giving plant reccomendations, but I will say that some solitary bees can nest in small blocks of wood with holes drilled in. It's important for the box/bee house to be located in a place that won't get too cold in the winter. A South facing window might do best. Also many bees prefer to have the door to their nest face East.

I do recommend finding a book about local bees and doing some research. Not all bees nest in wood, some bees use dirt and mud to make homes. Some bees are picky about the material their houses are made from and some are not. Reading up about your bees makes the whole experience so much more fun. Just make sure to keep pesticides away from your bee homes and be careful that the plants you plant have not been treated with pesticides previous to you buying them.

Good luck! On beehalf of bees everywhere I thank you for taking an interest!
posted by WalkerWestridge at 1:52 PM on August 8


As others have stated the bee hotels are for solitary bees like bumblebees

Also thank you essexjan! Very specific names that I can take to the garden centre :)
posted by Chaffinch at 4:25 AM on August 9


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