Flowers and dead wood will help our furry flying friendsLast update: 23.03.15 First posted: 23.03.15 by Estelle in Bees
Guest Blog by Carol Longbottom of cjeditorial.com
This article previously appeared in Valley Life magazine
Bees are essential for garden flowers, and our own food crops. Without their pollination services to bring about fertilization the majority of our plants would fail to produce seed and even fruit. Despite their keystone species status bee population numbers are falling; a worrying sign all of us should heed, gardeners or not. But there are many things we can do to encourage bees, to aid them in their quest for nectar and in doing so ensure our own food crops flourish.
Although experts do not know exactly how many bees we’ve lost, as they have no baseline from which to start, they are sure their numbers are falling. Of the 250 species of native bees in Britain the majority face an uncertain future; many even extinction. Loss of habitat and food, as well as an increase in intensive agriculture and pesticide use, has all taken their toll on the bee population.
Successful in their initial bid to get a temporary ban on neonicotinoid pesticides campaigners are now trying to persuade politicians to make the ban permanent across Europe. That could potentially, not only help the bees, but also a whole range of other insects, birds, fish and small mammals also affected by their widespread use. Gardeners can also do their bit by using more bee-friendly methods of dealing with pests in their garden, such as providing a wide range of habitats to encourage a variety of predators for a more balanced eco-system where pests are naturally kept under control.
This approach has also been taken by Incredible Edible Todmorden in their Green Route through the town, designed to encourage our furry flying friends to visit and to make their homes in the town. Pollination Street, bug hotels, the Waggle Dance Garden and the Bee Knowledge Wall all help bees feel at home as well as educating people about their critical work.
Everyone, even those of us with the smallest of gardens or yards, can all work together to help protect bees. For example not all bees live in hives. Some solitary bees live in tunnels in the ground, in hollow reeds or twigs, or build nests in holes in wood. These bees are specialist pollinators, known as oligoleges, who gather pollen from very few plants. This makes them vitally important for many of our rare wild flowers but as the bees become increasingly scarce the flowers do too, through lack of pollination. However by giving these bees a place to live, such as a pile of dead wood in the corner of the garden, we can help them, and save the flowers at the same time.
And all bees need food; ideally a supply of food from early spring till late autumn. Why not try planting a range of pollinator friendly plants in your garden? From Sweet Williams to English Lavender, there’s a whole list of plants both you and our pollinators will enjoy. Visit the Royal Horticultural Society website for a full list.
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