To bee or not to bee

Editorialin Conservation & Ecology

Bumblebees are among the most loved and familiar of garden insects. The sight and sound of them buzzing from flower to flower is a quintessential part of summertime, but sadly these charismatic creatures are now struggling to survive. In our modern world of paved gardens and intensive agriculture our bumblebees find themselves hungry and homeless.

The British based Bumblebee Conservation Trust has issued a nationwide challenge to help save the sound of summer by planting bee-friendly flowers to help reverse a decline in their numbers.

Research has shown that gardens can provide essential habitats that bumblebees can no longer find in farmland. It is an awful fact that 97% of Britain's species rich flower meadows have disappeared in the last 70 years, these meadows were prime bumblebee habitats and unfortunately much of the countryside is now a desert for bumblebees.

Gardeners would be surprised to hear that while bedding plants like Petunias, Begonias, Busy Lizzies and Pansies might look attractive in the flower bed or window box, they don't provide the vital nectar and pollen needed by bumblebees.

Indeed it is old-fashioned cottage garden wildflowers and herbs such as Lavender, Foxgloves and Sweet Pea that provide the perfect food for industrious bumblebees to do their job for all our benefit. Foods such as tomatoes, peas and many types of beans are reliant on bumblebee pollination. Bumblebees are Britain's wild pollinating workforce, without bumblebees the other foods we love to eat, such as strawberries, apples and raspberries will be far too expensive to purchase, as farmers would need to import bumblebees, pollinate by human hand or in the worst case Britain would be unable to produce these crops and would need to ship them in.

Lucy Rothstein, CEO at the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, said: "Bumblebees are a hugely important asset - they play an essential role in British farming and horticulture.

"By filling your garden and flower beds with plants that will provide the necessary nutrients that bumblebees need to survive, you are helping to ensure the harvest of our British fruit and vegetables year on year."

Article Tags:
Conservation & ecology