2. Let it grow wild

Leave patches of land to grow wild with plants like stinging nettles and dandelions to provide other food sources (such as leaves for caterpillars) and breeding places for butterflies and moths.

As land managers and gardeners, you can take simple actions to manage your existing land, green spaces and gardens to provide food sources and/or breeding places for pollinators. Examples of what you can do include:

Farmers and growers

• Identify and protect existing patches of un-cropped land eg, near buildings and hedges or near telegraph/power poles, to allow wild flowers to flourish. Grasses and other plants like stinging nettles, garlic mustard, sorrel, birds foot trefoil, are important as larval food plants for many of our butterflies.
• Leave patches of tussocky grassland as nesting or hibernating sites for wild bees throughout the year.






Land owners, foresters, amenity managers, local authorities, Highways Agency, railways, reservoir managers, facility managers and their contractors

• Identify and protect existing patches of natural and semi-natural land to allow wild flowers, shrubs and trees to flourish, providing places for breeding and nesting, as well as food sources for pollinators.
• Manage existing mixed species woodland by coppicing and thinning to provide food sources such as brambles and wild roses, and nesting places for pollinators. Creating wide sunny rides and other open areas in woodland allows wild flora to grow and creates good conditions for foraging pollinators.


• If possible, leave patches of long grass where insects can spend the winter.
• Leave perennial plants uncut over the winter as their hollow stems can shelter pollinators, or can be used as nesting sites the following year.
• Let some weeds flourish in your garden, even if just in one corner. Be kind to dandelions as they provide floral resources for pollinators early in the year. Be aware that butterflies and moths tend to lay their eggs directly on the leaves of plants like stinging nettles and brambles for their larvae (caterpillars) to eat.
• Thistles and brambles are also good floral resources for pollinators.


Note: Government experts and a wide range of interested parties have helped to inform the development of these actions and the supporting advice. It is intended as good practice advice and should not be regarded as official guidance. The Bees’ Needs is hosted by The Wildlife Trusts on behalf of Defra in support of the emerging National Pollinator Strategy. The Wildlife Trusts do not own or endorse any content other than as a contributing stakeholder to the National Pollinator Strategy along with many other organisations and individuals.

Contact us at: pollinatorstrategy@defra.gsi.gov.uk

1. Grow more

Grow more flowers, shrubs and trees that provide nectar and pollen as food for bees and other pollinators throughout the year.


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3. Cut grass less often

Cut grass less often and ideally remove the cuttings to allow plants to flower.


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4. Don’t disturb nests

Avoid disturbing or destroying nesting or hibernating insects, in places like grass margins, bare soil, hedgerows, trees, dead wood or walls.


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5. Think carefully about whether to use pesticides

Think carefully about whether to use pesticides especially where pollinators are active or nesting or where plants are in flower. Consider control methods appropriate to your situation and only use pesticides if absolutely necessary. 


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