Buzzing with concern for the honey bee.
WITH all the worries and concerns over recent years about our vital honey bee populations, it requires all of us as gardeners to do what we can to support bees by planting the right types of plants in our gardens to help provide the essential nectar and pollen for their nesting, feeding and breeding cycles.
Over recent years, many more of the modern flowering plants have either been developed as sterile plants, producing neither nectar or pollen, or they have been developed as double flowers that make access to any nectar or pollen nearly impossible for any hungry bees.
The difficulty is that we only see the brightly coloured flowers and do not, under normal circumstances, give much thought to the honey bee, or any other insect for that matter.
Forecasts during last summer of an almost total collapse in the honey bee population, due to a variety of factors, including the Varroa mite and Colony Collapse Disorder, seems to have been avoided and the British Beekeepers Association (www.britishbees.org.uk ) has been working hard with a number of organisations and Government bodies to ensure that our bee population does not collapse.
Remember that around one third of all that we eat, across the planet, is a direct result of bees and other creatures pollinating the flowers of food plants.
The big question for all owners of a garden patch, no matter how big, is what can we do to help support the bees.
As I am sure you are aware, mid-summer is not usually a problem for any bee, as there are plentiful supplies of cultivated and wild flowers available, dependant upon the time of day and the weather conditions.
It is the spring and autumn seasons that are so difficult for bees and we should be planting to extend our garden flowering periods into these times of year to help bees when they first emerge from their overwinter hibernation and to extend their feeding opportunities into the autumn.
Below is a starter list of plants, covering the four seasons, that will help to support our bees and so help to support us! Remember that these plants produce an abundance of nectar and pollen, often from large numbers of small, simple flowers and florets.
Late winter and spring: Galanthus, Eranthus, Salix, Corylus, Lonicera x purpusii, Mahonia, Chimonanthus praecox, Sarcoccoca, Scilla, Chionodoxa, Pulmonaria, Lunaria, Symphytum, Borago, Myosotis, Aubretia, Arabis, Hyacinth, Tulip, Acer, Aesculus, Betula, Crataegus, Prunus, Fraxinus, Berberis, Chaenomeles, Malus, Pyrus, Viburnum, Ribes, Forsythia.
Late Spring and Summer: Campanula, Nemophila, Eschscholzia, Clarkia, Gypsophila, Centaurea, Linum, Lavatera, Nigella, Limnanthes, Cosmos, Reseda, Phacelia, Coreopsis, Nepeta, Persicaria,
Sidalcea, Rudbeckia, Geranium, Achillea, Erigeron, Lonicera, Hydrangea, Solidago, Cotoneaster, Cynoglossum, Scabious, Anchusa, Lavendula, Origanum, Lythrum, Helenium, Thymus, Veronica and Hebe, Viburnum, Syringa, Fragaria, Rubus, Ligustrum, Potentilla, .
Late summer and Autumn: Anemone, Aster, Colchicum, Echinacea, Rudbeckia, Buddleia, Persicaria, Sedum, Hedera..
email@example.com For those of you still using chemical sprays to 'control' your garden pest problems, please ensure that you carry this task out either early in the morning, before the bees have woken up, or last thing at night, when the bees have gone to bed!!!!!!! For further information on the keeping and care of bees, why not treat yourself to a wonderful book that came out last year called Keeping Bees and Making Honey by Alison Benjamin and Brian McCallum, published by David and Charles (ISBN 978-07153-2810-1)..
BEES KNEES: Stock your garden with a diversity of plants such as these beautiful tulips, Queen of Night to help the bee population