By Anna Cottrell published
Beebombs, or seedbombs as they're also known, are one of the most popular wildlife garden ideas – a fun way of starting a wildflower meadow.
Beebombs also have been advocated as tools for 'guerilla gardening' in places where there is unused land. But do they actually work, and should you use them this spring instead of regular packets of wildflower seed?
Read the description on any seed bomb and it will promise you better germination than regular seed, protection from birds and mice, and even natural pest protection. They also can be aimed precisely if you're throwing them into an inaccessible spot. So far so good, but how do they measure up against regular seeds?
Do seed bombs really work?
The short answer is yes, but only if you follow the instructions. A beebomb can be a convenient way to start a wildflower patch or meadow in your garden, but that's mainly because a base in the form of compost and clay has been added to the seed mix, which makes it easier to sow. If you watch gardening experts sow wildflower seeds (see Monty Don's video below, for instance), you'll see that they often mix the wildflower seeds (which are tiny) with a bit of compost or sand, which just makes it easier to hold on to the seed and scatter it.
When you read the instructions for sowing seed bombs or beebombs in gardens, they pretty much advise you to crumble the seed mix in your hands – the process for sowing is exactly the same in the end. You also still need to prepare the soil by raking it.
As for protection from birds and mice, if you work the seed into the ground by walking on it, that should give enough protection.
Get more advice on how to plant a wildflower meadow in your garden in our guide.
Should you toss beebombs over waste lands or in a field?
As for the use of seed bombs in 'guerilla gardening', does this method actually work for restoring meadows and 'rewilding' neglected areas of land such as industrial wastelands and abandoned fields? The idea is so admirable: why not give it a go?
According to master beekeeper and blogger Rusty Burlew, there's no harm in trying – but also, sadly, not much use. Roadsides, industrial sites, and other disused public land is unlikely to be suitable for wildflower seeds, for two main reasons. The first is what Rusty refers to as 'traffic pan' or soil compacting from footfall and industrial machinery. Compacted soil has poor germination rates. The second is that 'toxic substances may have destroyed beneficial soil organisms while other chemicals may have altered the pH of the soil.
In other words, there's too much else going on, and 'most bare ground is bare for a reason.' So, if you want to help bees by planting native wildflowers, do it in your garden and use high-quality regular seed and well-raked soil.
You can still use a seed bomb, but it probably won't give you better results than seed from a packet.
You can also help encourage more pollinators into your garden with our pick of the best bee friendly plants for your space.
Anna is a keen urban gardener, with David Austin roses and Japanese acers among her favourite plants. She moved into the world of interiors from academic research in the field of literature and urban space a couple of years ago. She's always been interested in how people make houses into homes, and how our concepts of what's stylish change over time.
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