Follow our progress running the nursery, watching wild bees, keeping honey bees and creating our own bee-haven in south Oxfordshire

Ivy for bees

Those ivys that flower tend to do so in October. This is when common rambly ivy (hedera helix) produces is very plain looking green flowers. However, these should not be underestimated in terms of thier value to the bees as they resist frosts and keep flowering and providing vital nectar right up to November. This really helps the bees top up thier winter stores and can mean the difference between a colony surviving or not over the winter months. I would not recommend planting this ivy unless you have some spare land and trees for it to scramble over; it is so vigorous that it quickly engulfs a fence and can smother small trees to death. But given the right setting and space it will thrive and not only provide bees with pollen but homes of many other insects and even birds tucked into its criss-crossed branches.