Bees are disappearing at an alarming rate. I’m particularly astonished by the lack of bees in my garden this year despite planting nectar plants for honey bees and butterflies and specialist plants like digitalis, eryngium, echinacea and aquilegia to help bumblebees.
Bees not only enrich our gardens and pollinate our flowers they also pollinate 90% our fruit and vegetables. The lack of them could have a devastating impact on our food supplies, but also turn our brightly-coloured meadows into silent, grey hinterlands.
“It’s urgent they get our help and we need to do something about it now,” “But all too often people notice the importance of something when it’s not there – when it’s too late.” We can do something to help these busy workers now. Bees need nectar plants to feed as well as secure nests in order to feed and reproduce. I’ve produced an interactive plant advice CD-ROM which contains 650 food plants that bees love. You can choose the right plants to suit your garden conditions and suit your choice of garden style. It’s very easy to use.
It’s hard to believe that one small creature can be so important to our food supply. Albert Einstein was well aware of this connection. When it came to bees, he put it in no uncertain terms: “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.”
The possible reasons suggested for these declines are habitat alterations, climate change and linked to modern intensive farming which reduces the number of plants available for to bees seek out for food. As well as food plants, the insects need nesting sites for the Queens to start new colonies. On my web site I’ve included bee nests to help solitary bees as well as bumblebee nest boxes which provide a safe dwelling for the bees to reproduce.
There’s good news for the untidy gardener “Bumblebees are happier in gardens that are not perfectly tended. If you can leave some of the grass uncut, and a few areas looking slightly untidy, that’s what they love. Even if most of your garden is neat and tidy it’s a good idea to let some areas stay undisturbed. Behind the garden shed or garage are good places. You should also make sure you’ve got a variety of plants that flourish throughout the season.”
By Neil Bromhall.