Nature's Little Helpers
It is hard to believe that a tiny insect holds the key to life as we know it, but the truth is that without the humble bee, the human race would seriously struggle to survive. This is because bees are responsible for the ongoing growth and production of plants-without bees to pollinate them, plants would not be able to reproduce and most of the natural life on earth would quickly die out. Sounds a bit dramatic, doesn’t it?!
There is a lot of talk these days about bees and their role in the gardening and food production world. This is because the numbers of bees are declining, mainly due to the excessive use of unnatural chemical fertilisers, pesticides and other man made poisons. There is no man made alternative to the bee and we cannot replace their role in nature-the best thing we can do as gardeners is plant things that attract bees and other natural wildlife, so that we can keep their habitats safe and encourage these invaluable insects as much as we can.
Bees, Butterflies and Beneficial Bugs
Other insects such as butterflies and hover flies will not only be attractive and contribute to the natural ecosystem but many can also help with pollination. Mixing plants and flowers is a good way to attract these helpful critters, and has a double bonus in that you get a diverse range of plants instead of a sterile looking plot, AND you are also encouraging natural pollination and proliferation of your plants. A good idea is to plant a mix of things that will flower at different times of the year, meaning that natural pollinators can have a good supply of nectar throughout the growing season.
How To Attract Natural Pollinators
There are many plants which attract bees and encourage the proliferation of life; some of these include:
You can also buy a range of specific “bee and butterfly friendly” seeds to scatter about the place and attract beneficial insects-these have the added bonus of being pretty and scented and a great addition to any garden.
Tips to encourage Natural Pollinators
As well as choosing specific plants there are more things you can do to encourage bees, butterflies and natural pollinators:
-Don’t use chemical pesticides as they are non selective and will kill all bugs, not just the ones you are trying to get rid of. Natural predators should be used instead.
-Plant a variety of different coloured flowers to attract the insects-bees have good colour vision and are particularly attracted to blues, whites, yellows and purple flowers.
-Choose native plants from local sources to ensure that you are keeping your natural population of bees and insects happy
-Plant in clumps rather than single flowers as this will attract more pollinators.
-Grow bee friendly plants in bee friendly conditions. This means ensuring that the plants are in sunny spots and safe from strong winds.
It may seem like a small thing to do, but every little helps and planting things to help natural pollinators will go a long way towards making the world a better place, for longer.