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Act now to help our Bees and Pollinating Insects, they desperately need our help

Date Posted: 01 May 2017

 

We are all familiar with the buzz of bees and insects in our gardens especially during the Summer months but would we really notice if it was not there?

There is growing evidence that bees and pollinating insects are in decline, the term 'pollinating insects' includes many different species of bees plus other insects such as hoverflies, beetles, flies, butterflies and moths, if the decline continues it could have serious implications for our food production as a third of our food crops rely on these insects to transfer pollen from one flower to another in order to set fruits and seeds. The declining population could also affect the appearance of our countryside as up to 90% of all wild plants exist thanks to pollinating insects.

Some of the statistics that have been published are very alarming:

-   Half of our 27 bumblebee species are in decline

-   Three of these bumblebee species have already gone extinct

-   Seven bumblebee species have declined by more than 50% in the last 25 years

-   Two-thirds of our moths and 71% of our butterflies are in long term decline.

-   Across Europe 38% of bee and hoverfly species are in decline; only 12% are increasing.

Loss of habitat for foraging and nesting, pesticides, diseases and the weather are the main causes, so what can we do to help?

Individually each gardener will not have much of an effect but joined together all our gardens cover an estimated 667,000 acres which could provide a lifeline for these very important and vulnerable insects, here are 7 ways to help the pollinators in your garden:

Pesticides

Reduce or stop using pesticides all together, have a good clear out in your shed and dispose of safely all unwanted products, contact your local council for disposal sites that accept chemicals. Research new ways to deal with garden pests such as biological controlsorganic products, companion planting and encouraging wildlife and birds into your garden.

Provide a home

Put up various Insect houses in your garden place them in a sheltered position away from prevailing winds and rain, these will provide nesting sites for solitary bees and insects and provide a safe place to rest and hibernate.

Educational Pyramid Insect Habitat picture

Grow plants with flowers that attract pollinating insects

Some plants and flowers are better than others at providing nectar and pollen, single open flowers will allow easy access, avoid plants that have double or multi-petalled flowers these often lack nectar and pollen which can also be difficult to get at. Herbs such as Sage, Thyme, Nepeta and Lavender as well as  traditional cottage garden plants are ideal, plant in large groups or drifts of the same kind so that the insects have good foraging sites. Choose a wide variety of plants that will flower throughout the year. The RHS has a comprehensive list of Garden Plants perfect for Pollinators click here to visit their website.

Put out fresh water

Bees need to drink they collect dew on leaves or from the edge of puddles and ponds. Place a water bowl near to your Bee friendly plants, Bees can drown in deep water so fill with glass beans, pebbles or even marbles so that they have a dry surface for them to drink from.

Coniston Bird Bath

Grow organic seeds and bulbs

Buy organic seeds and bulbs that are free from pesticides and grow them without using chemicals, organic ornamental plants are available but can be hard to source, early spring flowering bulbs such as Daffodils, Crocus and Tulips will provide a valuable food source when there are few other plants in flower.

Plant trees

Trees provide a large source of food in one place, five established trees could provide a similar amount of pollen and nectar as an acre of meadow. Choose winter and early spring flowering trees such as Wild Cherries, Willow and Hazel.

Grow Wildflowers

Leave a part of your garden or lawn to go wild, this will provide suitable nesting sites and allow Wildflowers to grow, Dandelions, white and Red Clover are excellent bee plants or why not replace the lawn altogether and grow a wildflower meadow. The RHS has a comprehensive list of Wildflowers perfect for Pollinators click here to visit their website.

You may not be able to do all of the above but if we are all able to some then I am sure that it would make difference.

Love Bees and Pollinators - Love your Environment

ACT NOW! 

  

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