World Environment Day – Why Pollinators Are Vital To A Healthy Plot
05th June 2018
Working with wildlife in your garden or allotment has a variety of benefits, from enjoying watching them to natural pest control. When thinking of beneficial creatures that visit your green space, pollinating insects are often those that come to mind – flying from flower to flower they help the crops you are growing produce delicious yields. This World Environment Day, discover more about these pollinators, why they are vital to healthy crop production and how you can help them, too.
The most obvious group of pollinators that are vital for our crop’s health are of course bees. Honey bees will fly to different plants as they collect pollen and nectar. You may see them on the herbs in your garden, such as chives and rosemary, as they visit the flowers.
Although often overlooked, it is wild bees, as opposed to just domesticated honey bees, that are fundamental for crop production. Bumblebees are often found on allotments, their deep buzz alerting gardeners to their presence. Like honey bees, they are drawn to herbs when they flower, and raspberry flowers are a favourite, too. Solitary bees are another group that are vitally important pollinators. One example is the red mason bee, which helps to pollinate a variety of plants, including apple trees! By visiting the flowers of different crops, the bees become covered in pollen, and transfer it from plant to plant. This means the plant egg cells become fertilised and seeds can form, so lots of yummy fruit and veg for you!
Mimicking the appearance of bees and wasps, these insects are often mistaken for them, but they have no sting, and just use the colouring of those who do as a defence mechanism against predation. Visiting many different species of flower, they are an important group of pollinators, but it is not just this that makes them the gardener’s friend. The larvae are predators that will eat different pests from your veg patch, too, especially aphids!
Although wasps are often demonised they are a great generalist pollinator to have in your garden as they will unintentionally transfer pollen as they go about their day. They are also a super predator of pests that are roaming your vegetable patch, from aphids to caterpillars.
Make A Difference For Pollinators on Your Plot
Working with wildlife on your allotment or in the garden is one of the easiest ways you can help make a difference to the lives of bees, hoverflies and wasps in your area. According to Buglife, half of the bumblebee species in the UK are in decline, so now is the time to take action! Plant flowers in the garden that are great for bees, such as lavender and marjoram, and they also love veg like broad bean and strawberry flowers. You can help conserve these species by recording those that you see visiting your garden by taking part in The Great British Bee Count!
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