Experts share bee-friendly plants to grow this summer as Radio 2 launches Big Bee Challenge

The competition aims to make us more aware of the plight of bees and what we can do to help

foxgloves with bee flying towards it
(Image credit: Getty)

BBC Radio 2 has just launched the Big Bee Challenge in partnership with the Royal Horticultural Society. The new competition will help the nation to discover ways to attract bees and other pollinating insects to their gardens.

We know that bees help to create much of the food we eat - a third of the world's food production depends on them. Ahead of the competition, we spoke to experts at Flowercard on some of the best bee-friendly plants you can grow right now - whether you have a shady or sundrenched garden.

bees in lavender

(Image credit: Alamy)

The Big Bee Challenge is for children between the ages of 6 and 12 and asks them to design their own bee-friendly garden. 'I’m positively buzzing about the Big Bee Challenge, it’s such an exciting new initiative for Radio 2,' says Zoe Ball. 

'Our younger listeners can draw, paint or sketch a picture to show their design for a fabulous garden that will attract bees and insects, and we will build the winning entry. How fantastic is that!' 

The winning design will be built at an NHS Trust site used by children and young people with mental health needs. Everyone can get involved in the initiative, as there will be a Big Bee Challenge Weekend taking place on Saturday July 31st and Sunday August 1st. 

garden with foxgloves

(Image credit: Getty)

Over this weekend, Radio 2 will encourage everyone to do one thing to help the bees. Gardening experts at Flowercard recommend growing lavender, vipers bugloss, and foxgloves for a bee-friendly garden. These plants thrive in sunny spots.

If you have a shady garden or if the weather is particularly bad, they suggest trying aquilegia, borage, and monkshood (pictured below). Our wildlife garden ideas feature also includes some brilliant ways to support bees and other animals in your own back garden.

Our favourite way of helping the bees is scattering wildflower seeds in a more wild and unruly patch of grass to provide a pit stop for bees. Bear in mind that bees are most attracted to purple, white and blue plants when choosing new flowers or plants for your plot.


(Image credit: Alamy)

The winner of the competition will be invited to open the garden on Friday 20 August 2021. They will also receive a professional illustration of their garden design ideas and a box of gifts to help turn their own outside space into a haven for bees.

We recently spoke to some beekeepers about easy ways to attract bees to your garden for World Bee Day - check out their expert tips too.

How will you be supporting wildlife in your garden?

Millie Hurst
Millie Hurst

Millie joined Gardeningetc in January 2021 as a news writer. When she isn't writing about gardening, she's tending to her small front garden. Her geraniums, dahlias and nasturtiums are looking lovely right now. She recently bought a bench for the garden and is loving alfresco lunch breaks and taking time to notice seedlings growing. She loves picking up some new plants at the local garden centre and is never without some fresh flowers at home.