The buzzing of bees is an evocative sound, it’s the sound of summer, a backdrop to relaxed pottering in the garden.
But these little creatures do have a serious job to do, many plants and crops need bees to transfer pollen from the flowers’ anthers to their stigmas, in fact they are responsible for 80% of pollination worldwide *.
Without this simple procedure there can be no pollination and plants can’t produce fruits and seeds, which in turn means less food and fewer flowers.
The recent reduction in bee numbers is a concern and it’s generally agreed that it’s caused by a combination of diseases, a parasitic mite (the varroa mite), a reduction in their habitats and use of pesticides, particularly insecticides containing neonicotinoid.
The good news is that we gardeners can make a difference, although most of us have small gardens their combined area is huge and so is their potential.
Planting a variety of bee-friendly plants that flower for as much of the year as possible will be a big help.
As a general rule bees like flowers that have a simple, open construction, rather than frilly ones. If you like frilly flowers, just make sure you have a mixture of the two and everyone’s happy.
More tips to help bees survive:
- Give them somewhere to shelter, you can buy purpose-made shelters or simply tie hollow stems of plant stalks together and leave them in a sunny spot.
- Bird boxes also make good homes for bees.
- Avoid using pesticides.
The R.H.S. has helpfully supplied a list of plants for bees and other pollinators, plant a few of these and do your bit for bees.
It’s nice to think that our combined actions can have such a great impact towards sustainable gardening.
images: Jill Anderson