Welcome back to my family garden, my Tawny Mining Bee friends

Neil Kingsnorth

05 April 2012

When my partner and I were looking for a house together in Warrington last year we used this basic approach to house-hunting: find the biggest garden we can with the money we have, then make sure there is sufficient house attached to it.  

We found just what we hoped for, and me, my partner, my three step-children and our new baby (not to mention the dog, cat and gerbils) have been there about a year now. Out in the garden we’ve introduced an edible hedge, hens, a pond and woodland area (it’s not big enough for an actual woodland sadly) – all as part of our plan to create an organic, wildlife-friendly and family-friendly garden.

The family-friendly bit’s important. This is no green oasis to be untouched by people. It’s a green oasis that has to co-exist with people.  Including some people that like kicking balls around, playing water games and tumbling and playing in the sun (and rain) on the lawn. 

Which brings me to my little orange friends. This year has seen the welcome return to that lawn of some Tawny Mining Bees, which we first spotted last year. They are orange-coloured solitary bees that burrow into lawns and other grassy areas to lay their eggs. 

Then in spring the new bees hatch and leave behind them a little mound of soil in the lawn. They fly low to the ground and they don’t sting either. Apparently they’re quite common.

The combined family- and wildlife-friendly approach has been surprisingly natural. The kids join in with the digging, making and planting, have their own food patches and love the chaotic, swirling life in the pond. And our little orange bee-friends don’t seem to mind us either, co-existing happily with the family chaos.

A couple of weeks back we ripped up the tired old grass at the front of the house and planted wildflower seeds and sunflowers instead. We’re toying with beekeeping down the end too. We’re hoping to welcome a whole host of buzzing and pollinating bugs to the garden.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

PS: If you want to learn more about bees and our forthcoming campaign The Bee Cause , come along to one of our free Bee Prepared events taking place across the country in April and May.

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