The unprecedented and unexplained
decline in bee populations across the world has been attributed to many things
and one of those is 'loss of habitat'.
The push to remove hedgerows to increase field
sizes for bigger and even bigger farm machinery. Ploughing up meadows to make
way for grasslands to feed our livestock, ploughing right up to field margins.
The over use of pesticides to remove unwanted weeds, weeds that are 'bee food'.
Mixed forests are felled to make way for faster
growing softwood pine planting. This causes serious loss of pollinators, by
removing hardwood bloom that feeds bees early in the season, and by removing hollow
trees used by feral honey bees, and dead stubs used by many solitary bees.
Monoculture ... vast areas of a single crop that only flowers for a few weeks
in the year, then nothing.
Okay ... so what can you do to help ?
Grass lawns used to be the mark of the 'rich high society' ...
however, times have changed and most of us now seem to have a back lawn of
some sorts, which we diligently trim and spray with a cocktail of pesticides to
keep out the weeds. These lawns are in fact an environment disaster for
pollinators, and are a complete barren desert.
Could you let the dandelions flower, the clover and all those
other 'weeds' ? Could you plant a meadow ? Doesn't have to be a big one ...
plant a meadow in a pot even ?
Scientists at the University of Sussex repeatedly counted flower-visiting insects that foraged on 32 popular summer flowering garden plant varieties, in a specially planted experimental garden on the campus. In the second and final year of study, additional gardens were set up to check the results. The study, published today in Functional Ecology – the journal of the British Ecological Society
I have been asked many times ... "What flowers do bees like to visit?"
I have listed a few of the more common flowers in the following pages ... click on the alphabetical letters below to find the ones you fancy that start with that letter.
Join Dave Goulson from Sussex University to find out more about the best flowers to grow to feed wild bees and other pollinators
P -- good source of pollen
N-- good source of nectar
* -- excellent for bees
especially A. Chinensis & A. Schumanii, semi-evergreen or deciduous, flowers May-August
Sycamore, Maple, Typically small trees, with often insignificant looking but valuable flowers.
Yarrow, various flower colours but often white or yellow from May to Sept. Wild form pernicious.
Horse Chestnut (Large tree) not suitable for most gardens.
Agastache (giant hyssop) NP
Upright spikes of tubular, two-lipped flowers develop at the stem tips in summer.
Alcea Althaea NP
Hollyhock, Tall imposing spikes of flowers, July to September.
Alkanet, Alkanna tinctoria
Dyers' bugloss (Alkanna tinctoria) is a plant in the borage family whose roots are used as a red dye
is the onion genus, with about 1250 species
Allium siculum (Sicilian honey garlic) NP
These odd-looking plants drip with nectar and are exceedingly popular with bees, especially red-tailed bumblebees
In some species two tepals are enlarged and vividly coloured and act as "flags" for pollination.
Alyssum maritima NP
is a genus of about 100-170 species of flowering plants in the family Brassicaceae (cabbage family)
Alyssum saxatile NP
is a genus of about 20 species of small deciduous trees and large shrubs in the family Rosaceae
general characteristics of the borage family. They are generally herbs, covered with bristly hairs. The leaves are simple or undulate, covered with stiff hairs
is a genus of about 120 species of flowering plants in the buttercup family
known by the common name Chamomile; some species are also calledDog-fennel orMayweed.
Like their relative the foxglove, mainly visited by long-tongued bumblebees such as B. hortorum. Short-lived perennials, often grown as annuals
Apples are a good source of forage for queens in April and May, and of course the bee visits ensure a good crop
A lovely herbaceous plant, flowers in spring. Nectar is hidden at the end of very long tubes, so it is visited by long-tongued bees - mainly Bombus hortorum - but also robbed by short-tongued bees such as B. terrestris.
is a of flowering plants, within the family Brassicaceae
they flower and flower the whole summer long, starting in June and often not stopping till early November, and the colour range is glorious, from shocking pink through cerise, red, lilac to palest pink.
Michaelmas Daisy, valuable source of pollen and nectar in
autumn. Bright 'daisy' flowers Sept-Oct.
It is a low, spreading plant, hardy, evergreen and perennial, with small violet, pink or white flowers, and inhabits rocks and banks.