How to Produce a Pollinator & Planet Pleasing Place

Creating a Giving Garden

Spring Awakening

Hello lovelies, so March is almost upon us and no doubt, like us all here at HBB, you are happily embracing the much welcomed signs that Spring is finally on its way.  You have most likely noticed the lighter evenings, the unmistakable building of bird song in the mornings, the sprouting of snowdrops— those brave pure white pioneers nosing through the cold February ground, accompanied in places by the spattering emergence of purple crocuses.

 Out in the countryside on our hedgerows we may soon see clusters of the tiny white flowers of the spiny, shrubby Blackthorn tree, fields teaming with pregnant ewes, little ponds coming to life will soon be filled with jelly like globules of frogspawn – promises of new life and the milder weather to come.

Come March, in our gardens, on our walks, or in parks, we may be able to spot one of the earliest active bumblebees – the buff tailed bumblebee, the early ‘bombus’ bumblebee and solitary bee early risers. Have you identified any of these early spring bees?  Have a look at this link for a how-to guide:

And, what about the Honeybee?

 At this time of year us beekeepers will check the food sources in the hive (on days above 12C in order to prevent the temperature of the hive dropping too low) and add any emergency supplies if needed.

 Did you know that we always strive to work in harmony with our bees by ensuring we leave plenty of honey for them to feed on over the winter months (if anything we overestimate) and not take it all for our products.  This is one of the reasons why we are proud to keep our business small – so our bees can flourish alongside us.

At the very start of spring the Queen, surrounded by workers in the cluster, can start increasing egg production in February. On the warmer days  (generally 12C and above) you may spot forager bees leaving the hive to look for pollen which is in high demand in February as the bees need the protein from the pollen to feed their larvae. These clever beauties combine freshly foraged pollen with the residual capped honey from last year to feed the young.
On these milder days the bees also benefit from what we call a ‘cleansing flight’ -  essentially rather polite terminology for when the bees take advantage of an outside bathroom break, helping to prevent faeces building up inside the hive which can lead to disease and unhealthy conditions threatening the colony. At the same time they often take any debris out of the hive and dispose of it – a bit like a spring clean!
Did you know that at this time of year these ‘cleansing flights’ are fraught with peril for the bees?  After leaving the hive if the outside temperature drops to around 10C, once out any bee travelling too far may get stiff from the cold and be unable to return home. New to beekeeping or just interested? For more information on caring for bees in early spring have look at this informative blog:

Even if we do not keep bees, read on for more on how we can help them in  our very own back gardens!

 Gardening Glory or Gardening Gripe?

With these indications of spring in the air many of us start to think about rolling up our sleeves and turning a trowel to our own gardens or outdoor spaces in preparation for the coming season.

Here at HBB we are by no means garden experts but what we do know is that like us, all of our customers have in common a love for nature, wildlife, getting outdoors and the environment.

So, read on as we discuss how your garden can give to the environment and you – we' ll be unearthing tips on planting for bees,  providing pointers for creating an eco friendly garden, and hopefully along the way offering some fresh insights and purse friendly ideas to help you get the most out of your outdoor areas, the planet and pollinator pleasing way.


To Garden or not to Garden…..

Knowing how inclement our early spring weather can be (remember the late frosts last Spring?) before springing into our garden clean ups, nature lovers advise waiting until temperatures are consistently above 10C as many pollinators such as butterflies and bees are still wintering in dead leaves and the hollowed out stems of last year’s plants.  So, whether you are eagerly awaiting to get started or just thinking about getting prepared to get out there, we hope you find some useful hints and tips here.

 Planting for Bees

One of the most popular questions we are asked is how to encourage more bees to visit our gardens,  so first off let’s share our advice on how to plan your bee-friendly garden.


1.  Planting Diversity

 Aim for a good variety of pollen-rich flowers that have a wide range of different flower shapes - bee speices have different length tongues so are adapted to feed from different shaped flowers - and a range of flowering periods from early spring to late summer and even throughout the winter if you can. Bees are out and about from spring right through to winter so it’s important to think of plants and flowers that will provide our favourite friends with their necessary supplies all year round. Consider planting crocuses, sunflowers, bluebells and lavender.  In general avoid plants with double or multi-petalled flowers as these often lack nectar and pollen with pollinators also finding them difficult to access.


2. Plant Wildflowers and Native Species

 Native plants have evolved alongside our native insects meaning that many tend to favour the native wild plants found in the British countryside. We can also reap the other benefits of wildflowers too – they can be easy to grow and maintain (taking some work off our shoulders) and are often relatively resistant to pests.

3. Bees Love Trees

If you are lucky enough to have the space and a leafy garden is more your thing then plant trees and shrubs to please yourself and the bees. These will provide forage on a much larger scale to help honeybee colonies.

Did you know honeybee live in large colonies of up to 50,000? That spells the necessity for vast amounts of nectar and pollen!

Opt for apple, cherry, lime, eucalyptus, hazel and willow trees, heather, tree peony, St. John’s wort and honeysuckle make great choices of shrubs/bushes. 

 Plant the native evergreen perennial Hellebore – it flowers as early as January so is very useful for the early emerging bees we mentioned earlier. Other bee friendly shrubs include Rhododendrons, Buddleia, and Escallonia.

Oh, and have you seen how bees adore the cotoneaster shrub? -an absolute joy to see in your garden or on country walks.


In fact did you know the Cotoneaster shrub was named by the RHS as the ‘super-plant’ of 2021 ( being scientifically proven to help boost the environment and improve human health thanks to its ability to fight pollution by trapping airborne particles. A win for the planet, the bees and us!

4. Pesticides Poison Pollinators

Common insecticides containing neonicotinoids (thiacloprid and acetamiprid) kill bees and wildlife despite still being approved for home and garden use and being readily available at most garden centres and DIY shops.  Check labels and avoid using these.


5. Build a Bee House

 Make bee and insect houses or create hiding places in your garden to provide nesting sites for solitary bees and insects and ‘resting spots’ for them to take shelter in. A sturdy log pile or stack of porous wood would perfectly suffice.  Fancy a bee house for your garden? Why not save on buying one and follow this guide on making your own:
Fix bee houses in a south-facing spot but not in direct sunlight.  Also make sure the entrance points downwards so that rain doesn’t get in.  You could also create a few water stations without spending a fortune – bees prefer to land on something to collect water so natural boggy moss areas are perfect or water bowls filled with corks or stones provide landing spots for them.  

6. Wondrous Weeds

 For many of us weeds are the bane of our gardens. No matter how many hours we spend removing them, they just seem to spring straight back up don’t they! Instead of fighting this losing battle why not allow or even encourage the weeds to bloom in your garden?  Climbing ivy, dandelions (excellent vital pollen providers early in the season), daises and lawn clovers encourage frequent visits from bees all year round.

 Our Top 10 Bee Friendly Wildflowers

Here’s a compilation of our favourite wildflowers for bees to plant in your garden or to look out for on country walks (once the rain and wind cease!)

1. Bluebells
These stunningly blue, bell shaped perennials not only smell sweet and look spectacular but provide a great spring feast for bees – opt for true native British bluebells for maximum pollinator attraction!

2. Foxgloves
 A tall, hardy biennial classic, these pinky purple trumpets are loved by the longue-tongued garden bumblebee.

3. Comfrey
This perennial is greatly suited to any damp places in your garden - it will pretty much grow anywhere! (That’s a phew from us!) Bees profit from it’s long flowering period (May – August) and it can even be used to make a natural fertiliser.

4. Clovers
 Wonderfully wild, in summer both red and white clovers will be abuzz with the harmonious hum of bees.

5. Knapweed
Tremendous thistle-like wildflower produces masses of large vibrant purple inflorescences that act as magnets to pollinating insects – did you know that bees have ultra-violet vision so are particularly attracted to blue and purple flowers?

6.  Field forget-me-not
With bright grey-blue saucer shaped flowers these low to short plants are softly textured with hairy stems allowing the bees a place to rest and to easily manoeuvre around them.

7. Corn Poppy
Next up is the perky poppy! Despite the fact they lack inflorescences bees love poppies for their abundance of pollen which is easily accessible to them on the long filaments and exposed pollen-laden anthers of the flower.  If you pass a corn poppy, peak inside and you’ll notice there are many of these hairy filaments and anthers (the stamen that contains the pollen) and you will likely spot a feasting bee too!

8. Corn Marigold
Once abundant in cornfields throughout Britain this sunny, bright beauty glows with gloriously golden- yellow disc flowers and prominent ray florets.

Did you know that a study discovered that particular types of marigolds boast scientific data attesting to their tremendous value for bees? The findings ( show that it is the corn marigold who scores highest in the group in its provision of nectar rewards for bees. Additionally, corn marigold has a good level of longevity, meaning it provides more days of foraging opportunities for bees and other pollinators.

9. Wild Marjoram
This is the herb many of us liberally sprinkle on our pizzas – yep, also known as oregano! You would be forgiven for thinking it only grows around the Mediterranean region, but did you know it is actually native to the UK? With aromatic leaves and tiny nectar-rich white to purplish pink flowers it is a magnet for bees, butterflies and other pollinators -  sure to be a hotspot of activity in your garden.

10.  Lady’s Bedstraw
A readily growing perennial with gay golden- yellow flowers,  Lady’s Bedstraw is Britain’s only yellow flowered bedstraw (not to be confused with Crosswort), blooming from June until September. Adored by bees, butterflies and moths, unsurprisingly as some say the aroma of the flowers is strongly reminiscent to that of honey!


Keen to know more?

 For more detailed information on how to plant for bees we would recommend reading ‘Planting for Honey Bees’ by Sarah Wyndham Lewis or checking out the regular free talks given by Brigit Strawbridge who has a wealth of knowledge on the matter by clicking this LINK.  Perfect preparation inspiration to curl up with until the weather warms up.

 Or, why not watch the recording of our very own free live chat, ‘Planting for Bees’, for some great professional advice from Nigel Madge of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.  We were lucky enough to share some invaluable tips and ask questions submitted by our lovely customers during this one off webinar.  To access the video click HERE.

Grow these Flowers the Easy Way!

Here at HBB we have carefully selected our very own wildflower mix to give you a helping hand.  Each packet contains over 20 varieties -  including  many of those from our top pick of the wildflowers above - plus many more to help our pollinators thrive. Specifically designed to come together to provide a long flowering window, comprising of a mix of annuals and perennials, these 100% native British wildflowers are sustainably harvested in the UK without agricultural cultivator intervention and from wild populations with full British provenance. All in one packet, encased in an attractive instruction card AND with free postage -  all you will need to do is sow and enjoy them! To see them in bloom or snap a packet up click HERE!

Share the Wildflower Love

 Do you have a gifting occasion coming up? Now is the perfect time to include one of our eco friendly seeded gift tags, comprising of averagely 25 bee friendly seeds,  for a loved one to plant now ready for pollinators this summer. For more info take a peak HERE.

No Garden? No Problem!

 Many of us do not have gardens but perhaps a small outside area, an exterior window sill or maybe space for a hanging basket. These still provide great opportunities to ‘plant for bees’! Sow bee friendly seeds in window boxes, pop a pot of lavender by your door, create a small herb garden in pots or in  any space you have – honeybees will flock to the herbs you probably love to cook with too - try basil, coriander, fennel, mint , rosemary, sage and thyme. Or, how about popping a wildlife friendly hanging basket or two outside your door? Opt for single flowered bedding plants packed with nectar and pollen; for pollinator pleasing hanging display inspo have a read of this article: Wildlife-Friendly Hanging Basket - BBC Gardeners World Magazine
Our HBB wildflower seed packets and seeded gift tags are both also perfectly suited to be planted in pots or window boxes.


 Vegetable Garden only?

Perhaps your garden passion centres on vibrant vegetable patches rather than lush borders and flower beds aplenty. However, it is still important to attract bees to you garden to help pollinate your veg, ensuring you are provided with a hearty crop of home grown organic goodies.  Without plenty of pollinators you may find the plants in your vegetable garden growing huge with tons of flowers but hardly producing any vegetables. Try these tips:

  •  Intermix pollinator friendly annual plants into your vegetable garden, they will be over at the same time as your vegetable plants in the autumn, making them easy to pull out, prepare the beds and replant every year with your veg crop.

  •  Would you prefer to plant herbs near your vegetable plot instead of flowers? These will also work perfectly to entice bees to pollinate your veggies and serve to season your delights when they are ready for tasting should you so wish!  Bees adore the pollen and nectar from herbs such as thyme, rosemary, borage, sage and oregano which provide many medicinal properties to keep the colony fit and healthy (which is why mono herbal honies are particularly medicinal for humnas too!) 

  • Plant flowers in groupings to create bunches of colourful flowers with your veggies, making it easier for bees to find you garden.

 Garden Jobs for February & Early March

So, apart from planning for our pollinators, what else is good to do at this time of year?

Each garden and gardener has individual needs but for those of you eager to get going, with the help of Gardener’s World, we have “dug” out our top garden tasks for now:

1.Mull a natural leaf compost or manure layer into your soil

2. Prepare vegetable seed beds

3. Plant garlic

4. Protect any fruit tree blossom from frost 

5. Tidy paths and walkways

6. Divide bulbs such as snowdrops and plant those that need planting ‘in  the green’ (when the bulb still has leaves)

7. Sow any chillies, aubergine and sweet peppers inside under a heat propagator (if you don’t have one save the expensive by using a seed tray, tomato or mushroom punnets and cling film or old freezer bags fixed with elastic bands or sellotape to cover) Unsure how to sow your seeds correctly? Click HERE for Alan Titchmarsh’s explanatory guide.

8. Plant Lupins and Violas

9. Plant out any hardy perennials such as Japanese anemones and hardy geraniums

10. Plant Lilly bulbs now for fantastic summer flowers if you have well drained soil

11. Make fat balls for your bird feeders – click HERE for a recipe!
 Read on and follow any links in this blog for inspiration and ideas ready for when the temperature warms up in March (fingers crossed!)

       How do Deal with Garden Overwhelm

      Spring is often the time of year when we can  go from being frustrated that the weather isn’t good enough for gardening to feeling overwhelmed at the amount of work that needs to be done.  This may resonate especially true with you if you are new to having a garden, find yourself struggling to upkeep a bigger garden or just feel you lack the knowledge and don’t know where on earth to start.  Read on for 9 practical solutions…..

      1. Accept
       Take a deep breath and accept that there will always be as much work to be done in the garden as you can find time for. Accept that you can’t do everything and that is OK.

      2. Prioritise
      If it’s hot, then watering is the most important task to maintain what you already have. Or, at this time of year perhaps seed sowing or transplanting may take priority.  Ask yourself what is most important to you? If it is ensuring there are plenty of flowers for pollinators come summer then it’s time to start sowing your seeds. What would you miss seeing most in your garden if it didn’t grow or what would you love to sit out and see? Prioritise ensuring these plants/flowers flourish in your garden.

      3. Tackle
      Write a ‘To Do’ list of 10 items, the first things that come into your head.  Stop at 10. Pick one item – the quickest, the most important or the most fun – and do that. It may be all you do for one day but it is a launch into action and will feel satisfying to tick off your list.

      4. Simplify
      Are there ways to make life easier? Can you ask a neighbour if they may have any spare young plants so that you can reduce your time on the sowing/thinning/potting on and planting out? If buying plants, support local and eco by scouring farmers markets for young plants. If sowing seeds consider buying ones that are ready mixed for your particular wants and can be planted straight into the soil – like our specially selected ‘seeds for bees’. Simply lightly water the soil, hand scatter, tread over lightly to ensure contact with the soil and voila! For tips on how to simplify your garden have a look at Julieanne’s blog -Gwenfar's Garden and other musings – Notes on growing ornamentals and edibles, and musings on other matters that interest me. (  - she discusses gardening with ME but her advice is relevant to all of us that have more on our ‘garden to-do list’  than we feel we can manage.

      5. Participate in Community Plant Swaps
      Gather advice and soak up enthusiasm from other gardeners whilst saving money on new plants by sharing seeds, cuttings and transplants with others by participating in community plant swaps.  Some plant exchange events take place online where seeds and plants can be exchanged via mail or local pick-up. Have a look HERE.

      6. Cut Back Elsewhere
      As the evenings get longer and the weather warmer, prioritise taking yourself out in the garden for some beneficial sunlight and exercise and you may be amazed what you can get done if you cut back on spending time on other evening tasks. So what if the housework takes a back seat for a while? Or maybe lengthy dinners can be substituted for soups,  fresh salads or a stir fry to allow yourself time to prioritise your garden.

      7. The 15 Minute Rule
      Spend exactly 15 minutes on one garden task. Walk away when the 15 minutes are up to work on something fresh or have a cuppa – if the task isn’t complete repeat again either later that day or another day.  This is also a good tip for avoiding back or knee pain in the garden by reducing time spent on jobs that require prolonged kneeling and bending. You may be surprised by how much you can get done when you break your time down into 15 minute chunks rather than resigning yourself to ‘having to spend hours’ on a garden task.

      8. Ask for help
      Most of us have a caring friend or relative who are gardening enthusiasts and would no doubt be more than happy to be asked to share their expertise with us. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – most people love to talk about their passions and help others where they can. Perhaps friends and family could provide a fun way to help you tackle your garden in return for a cuppa and chat? Or why not treat your willing helper (or yourself!) to our Garden Bee box as a thank you?

       9. Embrace ‘the Wild’
      Turn your garden into a natural haven rather than strive for organised perfection - not only will nature and the local pollinators and wildlife thank you but also you will be helping yourself by keeping your garden lower maintenance.

      Consider opting for shrubs which are easy to plant through a weed suppressing membrane if you so wish, and once established in beds are unlikely to require regular watering. Let the grass grow, leave areas unmown between March and September - add aesthetic interest and food for pollinators by introducing wildflowers into the sward.

      Wild looking, lower maintenance,  sustainable gardens have definitely seen an increase in popularity over recent years with last years Chelsea flower show featuring planet-friendly gardening designs showcased alongside the more traditional manicured gardens.

      Members of the prestigious Society of Garden Designers ( note how, “wild meadows have replaced formal beds” with “rewilding becoming one of the biggest garden trends in recent years, with more and more gardeners opting for wildflower meadows, instead of neatly manicured lawns, and looser, more relaxed planting schemes that seem a million years away from the neat borders our parents would have praised.”

      So, don’t stress about  those ‘weeds’ - did you know in fact that last year the Royal Horticultural Society  awarded a gold medal to a garden full of ragwort and other weeds, praised for its incredible source of nectar for pollinators. (Biodiversity bonanza! Why it is time to let weeds go wild in our gardens | Gardens | The Guardian.) 

       If your garden is looking rather on the ‘wild’ side, be proud, not only are you bang on trend, most importantly of all you are providing a planet-kind haven for pollinators and wildlife, whilst saving yourself garden chores!

      Remember, the definition of 'weed' is a "wild plant growing where it is not wanted and in competition with cultivated plants".

      Let's stop calling them weeds and instead call them 'wanted' wild plants!

       8 Tips for Cultivating an Eco-friendly Garden

       Now you are armed with ideas for pollinator pleasing plants , garden jobs to commence, along with some tips to help motivate you, how else can you make your garden eco-friendly and a little lighter on your finances?

       1. Practice Sustainable Gardening

       What is it exactly?

       The RHS define sustainable gardening as, ‘the concept of using practices to maintain a garden so that natural resources are not exhausted and without causing ecological damage.’  The practice lends itself to creating a welcoming habitat for wildlife in your garden, attracting more birds, butterflies, pollinators, frogs and other creatures to your space. 

      The Ecosystem Gardener recommends being “mindful of environmental costs”  by not purchasing reams of materials, fertilisers or tools that you do not need, refraining from “maintaining your garden using fossil fuel powered mowers, blowers and trimmers,” and by designating your own composting area for leaves and other organic materials.

       2. Reuse and Relove

      Matt James, horticulturist writer in 'Real Homes’ stresses the importance of recycling and reusing materials for your garden – can you breathe some new life into that neglected pot in the corner? Whether you are looking for pots and planters for your garden, window sill or backyard, instead of buying new how about trawling your local charity shops or checking out flower boxes and containers on freegle.

      Feeling keen for a creative project during the evenings while we await the warmer weather? Why not make your own budget friendly planter out of fallen wood in your garden or any that you may come across on country walks – big or small depending on how enterprising you are feeling! 

      Last year team HBB had fun making a couple of our own planters above with bits of fallen tree from Llangybi woods - a couple of which now lend to brighten up our office here.


      3. Repurpose

       We operate our own return and reuse scheme for your jars and tins here at HBB – if you haven’t taken part in this yet be sure to click HERE for info on how you can get money off your products by ‘bee-ing’ green’!

      However, due to food legislation, we cannot reuse your honey jars so, at this time of year, how about repurposing them for seeds in your greenhouse or using them upturned over seedlings as mini ‘cloches’ to keep the soil warm for growth? If you don’t have any outdoor areas they also lend themselves to making these cute little terranium-esque homes for plants.

      Perhaps you have lots of our scrub/cleansing balm wooden spoons going spare? Here at HBB we have found they come in particularly handing for labelling our seeds! 


      4. Soil Support

       Lots of compost and/or well-rotted manure will keep your soil in what gardeners call ‘good heart’. This healthy soil will be teeming with essential microorganisms, which in turn is most likely to give you healthy plants less likely to succumb to pests and diseases.

      Try recycling green waste and make your own compost which costs nothing and will save money on bagged compost and soil conditioner from the garden centre.  One tip is to leave those fallen leaves in your garden and spread them through your garden beds and let Mother Nature break them down to add organic matter to your soil.

       5. Be Water Wise

       Conserve water and money where you can by installing a water butt (for recycled plastic options check out Water Butts - Have a look at our range - Great Green Systems) for your watering needs.  Clever cost cutting irrigation helps too: don’t use a sprinkler on the garden, instead water the roots without wasting it on the leaves, buy larger pots for plants so they don’t dry out as quickly and ,if you do mow your lawn, refrain from mowing it too low in hot weather to help it retain its natural moisture.

      6. Choose Eco- Friendly Plants

       In an eco-friendly garden the best plants will provide food and shelter, creating perfect habitats for beneficial wildlife.  Choose lots of local berry-producing plants and trees, such as hawthorn. Favour hedges instead of walls or grow climbers – ivy is particularly good, providing both protection and a rich source of nectar in the colder months. Be sure to check what conditions your plants require and plant in the shade or a sunnier area accordingly allowing them to thrive naturally. This will also help to keep garden maintenance time to a minimum.

       7. Cut Chemicals

      There’s nothing more frustrating than your favourite shrub being munched by bugs, or tender seedlings being leeched by aphids. However, try to avoid chemical pesticides that can get into the soil and water supply as well as be ingested by insects, frogs, birds and other wildlife, causing serious harm.  Adopt an eco-friendly approach to pest control like that favoured by garden designer Katie Rushworth ( :
      • Make your own Spray. Repurpose a household spray bottle and full with a mixture of tap water and dash of washing up liquid for an easy deterrent that can be applied directly to plants affected by greenfly and aphids without causing the plant harm.
      • Barrier repellents. Stop pest attacks effectively by denying them access. Piling straw around the base of plants will block a creepy crawly’s way up to the leaves. Cooper tape placed around the rim of containers will prevent  slugs and crumbled eggshells spread around plants or the use of beer traps (you will have to share the Stella) will serve to stop slugs and snails in their tracks. 
      • Welcome wildlife. Surrounded by natural allies in our gardens, birds, frogs, hedgehogs and insects are on our side in the fight against garden pests. Hang bird feeders to attract our feathered friends and if you can create a small water area for frogs.

      • Get hands on. Perhaps not fo the faint- hearted but a quick, cheap and easy method of pest control is simply plucking up the critters as you see them. After a spot of rain is a great time for a recce of the garden for picking out slugs, snails ad caterpillars!

         8. Oh, Honey!

       Did you know the amazing natural power of honey can also be harnessed for use in the garden?

      Elizabeth Waddington, Green Living Consultant and author of ‘Rural Sprout’ recommends using a quality, raw honey for top nutritional benefit for your garden- although I’m not sure there would ever be any left over in our house!

      Intrigued? She suggests trying it as a rooting hormone when growing plants from cuttings as its antibacterial and antifungal properties save cuttings from rot and infection and provide a safe environment for growing roots.

      In need of a fertiliser for fruiting annuals? Well, hello honey! Providing an excellent source of nutrients – not just for us, but for plants too, honey is a source of many essential plant elements - phosphorus and potassium - as well as nutrients like zinc, iron, calcium and magnesium. Simply mix a tablespoon or two of gently heated honey with 7 cups of water stir well, leave to cool and then use the mixture to water your flowering or fruiting plants. 


      Another way honey can come in handy for gardeners is in helping to preserve fresh fruits without the use of processed sugar – use in your jams, preserves and canning syrups.  Check out our very own delicious raw Welsh honey HERE.


      A Garden that Gives to the Environment and You

       It seems by embracing eco garden and planting ideas gardeners are giving so much to the wildlife and planet, will hopefully have flourishing flowers and pollinators aplenty to enjoy, perhaps reaping veggies and fruit too, but how else can your garden give back to you?

      It is common knowledge that getting out in the garden is good for us – the dose of vitamin D, the exercise, along with the immersion in nature serve to improve our health, with the NHS now included gardening in their social prescribing as a method of healthcare.

      Certainly the benefits of being in the garden run much deeper than just exercise, in '12 Reasons Why Gardening is Good for You  Kate Middleton discusses how gardening can help you enter “an altered state of consciousness where you enter a magical and spiritual place where you can experience the best of who you are.”


      Your Garden as a Spiritual Sanctuary

       Let your garden provide you with an outlet for relieving stress and anxiety -  a place where you can become still and mindful by consciously breathing and being in the present. Choose your favourite serene spot where you can take time out to clear your head - garden meditation “can help to lower blood pressure, strengthen the immune system, improve brain function and lessen pain and inflammation” (

      Once you have chosen a  little spot in your garden or back yard , set about creating your own meditation garden or ‘quiet spot’ just for you.  Put in a small bench, hammock, or a simple yoga mat.

      Next add a water feature for cleansing and calming; perhaps a bird bath or a simple ornamental bowl. You may like to add wind chimes for gentle sound or some meditation bells.

      You may think about adding some rocks, large pebbles or stones  to offer a sense of grounding and calm to your quiet place.  Perhaps you would like to add sculptures of spiritual figures who are important to you – this garden space should feel personal and  be simple, natural and low maintenance where you can escape from the busyness of daily life and reflect on the simplicity of nature. How about memorialising a loved person or pet that has passed on from this life with a thoughtful stone or ornament dedicated to them for reflection on loving memories you shared.

      Enshroud your special space with your favourite pollinator friendly plants, grasses and evergreens, to create the feeling of a protective safe haven around you. Opt for fragrant, relaxing lavender, or try the citrusy musky bouquet of tulsi basil (easy to grow from seed) and widely used in Ayurvedic medicine to reduce the impact of worry on the body with several research studies having validated its value in the management of stress and anxiety (

      For further aromatherapeutic relaxation why not roll on our natural essential oil Relieve Bee Remedy on your pulse points whilst you enjoy the peace of your garden? This essential oil blend has ben carefully designed following extensive research by our small Welsh team to include the very best plant oils to support tension and stress relief – for more info on this CLICK HERE

      Relax with a Book
       Enjoy winding down in your garden or backyard with your favourite book – to really immerse yourself in the spirit of the garden, for all you bee and nature lovers, we would fully recommend delving into Brigit Strawbridge Howard’s book ‘Dancing with Bees’. Bridgit’s fascinating account of the lives of flora and fauna that have filled her days with wonder and delight is flowing with passion and infectious enthusiasm for the majesty of the natural world and the humble bee – the perfect irresistible garden read to enjoy amongst the rejuvenating effects of nature.

        Reap the Rewards
      Take pleasure in how you are helping the bees with your pollinator friendly planting and eco garden environment. Treat yourself to your local, raw honey, knowing that your garden has played a pivotal role in its production.  One of the most rewarding things for us is when our very local customers tell us how lovely it is that the honey in their HBB skincare products has come from nectar they provided in their own garden – what a lovely happy feeling.

       But what if you don’t have any outside space at all?

       If you don’t have an outside area , fear not, studies have shown that  houseplants can also ‘give’ to your well being, demonstrating an extraordinary range of properties, from the healing powers of the Aloe Vera to the air purifying qualities of the Peace Lilly

      Healing Houseplants
       The Spider Plant Invest in a spider plant – not only one of the easiest to look after it has been found to remove 95% of formaldehyde in the air, as well as improving oxygen levels and removing carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. 

      Peace Lilly  Another recommended indoor beauty is the peace lily -she works hard to remove chemicals from the atmosphere and is even capable of removing airborne mould that can be alleviating to allergy and asthma sufferers.

      Snake Plant What about the sensational snake plant? This one really is the Queen Bee of air cleaners with, ‘the ability to absorb excessive amounts of carbon monoxide, filter toxins such as benzene and trichloroethylene (The Healing Power Of Houseplants - Peace With The Wild)  – try popping it in your bedroom to regulate airflow as its super power is converting carbon dioxide into oxygen at night!

       Open Gardens

       If you don’t have your own garden why not take some time out to appreciate flowers, plants, shrubs and pollinators in the gardens of locals by attending an open gardens event near  to you.  For those of you in Gwent there is a fab website detailing dates and locations of open gardens throughout the region. To have a look click HERE 


      How does your Garden GLOW?

       For all you natural skincare lovers have you thought about growing your favourite skincare scents and ingredients in your garden? Do you already recognise some of HBB’s plant-based skincare components in your own gardens or out in the countryside? Let’s feel inspired by some common garden plants beloved in skincare:


      Chamomile blooms are small with yellow centres and white petals, they look like mini daises, have a sweet herbaceous aroma and are best planted in the spring.  Chamomile essential oil is extracted from the blossom (flowers) of the plant via steam distillation; this essential oil is a wonder ingredient for soothing sensitive skin, reigniting radiance and for it’s ability to calm nerves, fight anxiety and depression

      How do we use it at HBB?

      Find chamomile in our calming ‘Sleepy Bee' Essential Oil Blend and in our zero waste nourishing 'Sleepy Bee' Balm – perfect for applying on sore dry gardening hands before bed for physical skin moisturisation and mental relaxation.

      Update: Look out for this ingredient in our brand new Sensitive Bee Spritz/Toner – testing so far has been very positive so we will be progressing to formal safety assessments next.



      A sun-loving shrub with evergreen, needle-like leaves,  white, purple, pink or blue flowers, and whose scent evokes the Mediterranean. This one is best started in the spring from ready-grown plants. Extracted through steam distillation of the plant’s flowering tops and leaves, rosemary essential oil is used in skin care products to reduce inflammation and for it’s antiseptic and antibacterial properties.  It is so good for memory, concentration and improving brain function - great to inhale before an exam!

      How do we use it at HBB?
      Have you tried it in our Honey Bee Tea-tree, Lavender & Rosemary Soap? Thanks to the anti-inflammatory properties the addition of rosemary in this soap for combination skin really helps soothe and reduce irritation caused by acne.

      For gardeners our Garden Bee Foot & Hand Scrub contains a generous helping of rosemary essential oil to clean dry, rough skin and soothe cracked heels, hands or elbows.

      A firm favourite of mine, with vibrant purple flowers and a seductive fresh scent, English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is a fairly hardy herbaceous perennial and best planted from March through to May.  Lavender essential oil is extracted from steam distillation of the fresh or partly dried leaves – if you are interested in learning about the distillation process click on this link:

      Lavender oil is popular in beauty products as it is packed full of antioxidants, is gentle on the skin, and soothes eczema prone dry skins and is THE best oil to bring calm.  The bees, bumbles and butterflies adore it too!

      How do we use it at HBB?
      Lavender is vastly used in our skincare range -almost as much as our beloved rose geranium! We use it inour hand cream, body cream and balms.

      This prolific bloom ranges in colour from creamy lemon yellow to apricot  and bright orange, it is often known as the pot marigold and thrives here in the UK. Calendula oil is the natural oil extracted from marigold flowers widely used in skincare for its gentle  healing, moisturising, anti inflammatory and anti ageing properties. A Study ( called “Calendula: Effects On Mechanical Parameters Of Human Skin”, notes that calendula increased the hydration of the skin and, “it was found that the formulation had the ability of inducing skin tightness which prevents the damage of skin and also delays the aging process.”

      How do we use it at HBB?
      Find this power house plant in our cleansing balm range for its cleaning, moisturising and anti-ageing properties. Gentle enough to heal and soothe sensitive skin it also features in our Sensitive Bee Universal Balm.

      But, perhaps most popular of all, find it in our award winning soothing and healing Nurse Bee Universal Balm - see what our customers say about it HERE.
      If you fancy having a dabble in making your own skincare from your garden offerings have a browse of these sites for guidance:





      Gardener’s Skincare Saviours

      As beneficial as gardening is for our physical and mental wellbeing, it can take its toll on our skin. Keeping hands, elbows, knees and heels smooth, moisturised and hydrated after toiling in the garden can prove challenging, especially at this time of year when the weather can still be quiet cold and wet.

      We’ve pinpointed skin concerns shared with us by our customers, drawn on our own experiences and scoured the advice of dermatologists to compile a list of tips to keep your skin ‘bee-utifully’ soft throughout the gardening season and beyond.

      1. A moisturising soap is a must
      Whilst we are gardening we are constantly using our hands, exposing them to the elements, and frequently washing them between jobs.  Our hands have few sebaceous glands so using a hand wash containing skin-drying ingredients such as alcohol and SLS will suck moisture out of the skin, with this dry skin likely to become sore and irritated.

      How can HBB help?
      Have you tried our natural zero waste soap bars in various scents including fragrance free for sensitive skin? Formulated with a generous helping of coconut oil for firmness and lather, soothing olive, sunflower and castor oils, and a generous helping of raw honey and beeswax, our gentle, alcohol free soaps are guaranteed to cleanse and hydrate those hard-working hands. Click HERE to see how they make our customer (So)ap pleased!

       The British Association of dermatologists recommends removing rings to avoid getting soap and moisture left trapped underneath, ensuring you throughly dry your hands after washing and then follow up with a nourishing hand cream.

      Try our natural hand creams, luxuriously rich with beeswax and honey to gentle soothe, protect, attract and lock in moisture. From hard-working to heavenly scented hands, choose from punchy lavender & lime or revitalising rose & frankincense.

      1. Love Gloves
      With hands now moisturised, pop on a pair of gloves as an extra barrier and layer to keep in moisture. Dr McGeneva of the National Ezcema Association explains how it is important to choose the appropriate gardening gloves, avoiding those made of plastic with a lacquered finish as these, “ contain agents that are irritating to the skin like formaldehyde.” Dr McGeneva recommends a pair of “nitrile gloves with natural fabric liners” which will help protect from any plant irritation, thorns and dirt whilst allowing your skin to breathe.

      Did you know?
      Our Gardener’s Deluxe Gift Box includes, along with other honey goodies specifically designed for hard working skin, a cheery pair of durable 'nature themed' gardening gloves, the perfect gardening partner, these are made from soft and breathable material to the back of the hand and protective nitrile coating to the underside – check them out HERE.

      1. Slather the sunscreen.
      The skincare expects at  the American Academy of Dermatology reflect the advice of many other dermatologists when pottering in the garden: “be sure use a water-resistant, broad- spectrum protection with an SPF of 30 or higher; apply to all skin not covered by clothing and avoid gardening when the sun is strongest.”

      A HBB Suncream?
      Update: as many of you know we have started investigating the production of our own natural SPF cream - a tricky, lengthy procedure we are excited to embark on. We would feel so happy to be able to offer you a natural suncream -investigations are currently focusing on using natural compounds such as zinc oxide instead of chemicals such as avobenzone, octinoxate and octisalate, which will enable the formulation of a very low irritation, mineral sunscreen which will not use these chemical UV absorbers but will still provide high SPF, height transparency and low whiteness on the skin.

      1. Shower and Clean clothes
      Sap, pollen and other parts of plants can get on your clothes and skin. There are some plants in particular with irritant sap, such as Chrysanthemums and Philodendron, which can cause anything from minor rashes to skin blistering - skincare experts recommend a wash and clean clothes on coming in from your garden.  If you are susceptible, this list of plants with irritant sap may make be a useful reference for you: 10 Plants with Irritant Sap - BBC Gardeners World Magazine

      1. Post- Gardening Pamper
      Most gardeners will receive a few bites and stings while tending to their outdoors and after days spent working outside your elbows, hands and heels may feel in particular need of some soothing respite from dry, sore, cracked skin.

      HBB to the Rescue!
      Reach for our Bathing Bee Bath & Body Oil to revive after a hard day in the garden with rosemary, lime and petigrain, this is one of my favourite HBB products!

      If you have any bites or stings, why not try out our Rescue Bee Remedy with cooler roller ball applicator.  Pure essential oils of naturally antifungal and antibacterial tea-tree, lavender and soothing melissa, along with raw honey and propolis, come together to help soothe irritated skin.

      For sloughing away dead skin why not have try of our Garden Bee Hand & Foot Scrub which acts as a natural swarfega gently removing mud, dirt and rough skin with olive oil infused himalayan pink salts and uplifting scents of rosemary and lemon to revive and refresh.  Great for dry heels and elbows, the scrub also works well to exfoliate hands – helping them to better absorb hand creams and reveal a brighter, younger skin to the surface.


      Follow the scrub with smidge of our Garden Bee Universal Balm which will soothe and repair dry, cracked skin on hands and feet with raw honey, pure beeswax and propolis and say a thank you to the bees for what they provide.

      If you are suffering from extremely dry hands and nails, try some extra overnight care by gliding one of our solid bee balms (which scent would you pick?) over hands before sleep, by applying our ‘Worker Bee’ Cuticle Oil to alleviate peeling, splitting and flaky nails and cuticles and by donning a pair of cotton gloves while you sleep.

      What if you suffer with Phytophotodermatitis?

      For many gardeners phytophotodermatitis (Phytophotodermatitis: Symptoms, Causes, and More ( can be a pain point. It is a type of contact dermatitis where contact with certain plant chemicals can cause skin inflammation when exposed to sunlight (such as from the common Hog Weed).

      It is caused by exposure to furocoumarins, a type of chemical found on plant surfaces. The chemical can become activated by UVA rays through the process of photosynthesis. If your skin comes into contact with the chemical and the chemical becomes activated, a reaction can occur. Contact with this activated substance, even briefly, can cause skin reactions in some people. The symptoms of phytophotodermatitis vary based on the cycle of the reaction. At first, you may experience blister-like patches across the skin. These are often itchy and irregularly shaped. These patches appear wherever your skin is exposed to the plant substance. The most commonly affected areas are the legs, hands and arms.  If it sounds like you may be a sufferer click here for a rundown of the most likely plant suspects and on how to manage them:

      Phytophotodermatitis - Plants That Cause It, How to Treat It (

      Can HBB help?
      For  dermatitis, to best manage the symptoms, try our award wining Nurse Bee Balm, containing the natural antiseptic propolis, it is a great overnight treatment to reduce itching and soreness – check out this little wonder balm by clicking HERE. For those of you with extra sensitive skin try our Sensitive Bee Universal Balm which is free from essential oils and any fragrance.

      Inspiring Women Gardeners
      As a nod to our upcoming St David’s Day and International Women’s Day, and in keeping with our garden theme, we thought we would share with you the inspiring garden of the Welsh superwoman Sue Kent. 
      Sue, whose beautiful garden on the pine-clad slopes of Gower’s coastline, has featured several times on BBC Gardener’s World.  Garden loving Sue who was born with arms eight inches long, no thumbs, and seven fingers in total after her Mother took Thalidomide for morning sickness, tends to her array of plants almost entirely using her feet

      She reminds us not to spend time worrying about our gardening mistakes, "gardening is all about failing. It's a creative experience. It takes you out of yourself,” and to enjoy our time in garden.  To listen to her awe inspiring podcast click the following link: Gardening Against The Odds - BBC Gardeners World Magazine

      Over to You……
      We hope we you have gleaned some useful eco- friendly garden tips here, found some interesting information on planting for pollinators and tips for looking after your hard-working skin.  We would love to hear if you have found reading/watching the videos/links inspiring – let us know! 
      Most of all we would love to hear your tips and ideas, particularly what jobs you tackle in the garden first (we think you will be know more about this that us!) and how you welcome nature to your outside areas – click reply to this email and please let us know.
      Here’s to spring and enjoying the outdoors!
      Much love,
      Cath and the bees xx




      woman creates stunning garden and does all the work with her feet - Wales Online

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