Bee kind…

The careful insect ‘midst his work I view,

ow from the flowers exhaust the fragrant dew,

With golden treasures loads his little thighs,

And steer his distant journey through the skies.

(John Gay, Rural Sports)

As the scent of summer flowers filled the air in the recent scorching heat, so did the sound of bees buzzing about their business of pollinating. One of the GreenArt team spotted no less than 10 species of bee in her garden, right here in Wallingford, including the solitary Four-banded Flower Bee, which is particularly fond of purple shades of flowers like Alliums and Lavender. You might have seen the pictures on Facebook.

This bee is one of the 250 species of wild bee found in the UK and like most of the other wild bee species is a solitary bee, nesting alone. Solitary bees play a vital role in pollinating crops and wildflowers and like the rest of the bee population, is under threat from pesticide use.

Here at GreenArt we are exploring what alternatives which can be used to address the issues of weeds and other pests in our gardens as herbicides based on glyphosate can potentially have a devastating effect on the bee population. A recent study by an American High School student found that amounts of glyphosate which are deemed to be “safe” levels can cause disorientation. The Sunday Times reported back in February this year that, Mary Zgurzynski, overseen by her scientist mother, timed the insects’ progress through a maze. Even tiny doses of glyphosate seemed to wreck their co-ordination.

A bee keeper in The Republic of Ireland has also reported the death of one hive and the devastation of another two where glyphosate based herbicide was sprayed on road sides in her local area. That’s a loss of thousands of bees in this incident alone.

Whilst these findings challenge the advertising of these chemicals licensed for home use as “safe”, they are difficult to ignore for, simply put, no bees, no pollination of flowers and crops, no pollination of crops, no food (including food for livestock), no food, famine on a global scale.

So, what can we do as gardeners to be kind to our local bees? I am sure many of these things you already have or do in your own garden, but it is worth exploring them here, to provide tips for new any new gardeners reading and also to remind you of how what you do contributes to the preservation of bee-kind.

  • Choose plants that attract bees – Purple flowering plants are very bee friendly. Below is a selection of others you may want to consider.
  • Where possible plant a few of the same plants in the same area.
  • Pick plants with long blooming cycles – Shrub roses are great as you can get repeat blooms for a long period over the summer and scented specimens increase their attractiveness to bees.
  • Let plants flower – when planting vegetables, consider letting some of the plants flower. You could also allow some of them to seed as this will give you seeds for next years crops and plants.
  • Deadhead – many plants when deadheaded, go on to produce more flowers which means more bees in your garden! For more guidance on deadheading see our upcoming roses blog.
  • Place a solitary beehive in your garden. This provides solitary bees with somewhere to nest. You can purchase one from our website here https://greenart.co.uk/product/solitary-bee-hive/

Just before I go, on the subject of weedkiller, we are planning to test out some of the greener, glyphosate alternatives here at GreenArt and I will share our findings with you on the methods and products we find the most effective.

And I shall sign off by saying, Be kind to bee-kind

With warm regards

Jenny

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