Wednesday 3 June 2009
Bumblebees need gardeners' help urges Garden Organic
Garden flowerbeds combined with untended garden areas could help protect Britain's declining bumblebee population, according to a survey by the UK's leading organic growing charity.Garden Organic, whose members last year surveyed the habits and numbers of bumblebees in their back gardens, discovered that flowerbeds and borders for foraging accounted for 65% of all bee sightings, while three quarters of the participants that actively encouraged bees to nest, felt scrub areas were more effective than bee boxes as nesting habitats.
As a result of the findings the charity is now urging more of us to create flower-rich refuges in our gardens to better protect bumblebee populations, thought to have halved since the 1950s.
In its survey Garden Organic's members not only counted 14,305 bees � which all participants felt was lower than in previous years - but also the types of plants they most often visited. And while Foxglove and Pulmonaria proved the most popular ornamentals, herbs such as Lavender and Comfrey proved most popular to the bees overall.
Gemma Sutton, who led the Garden Organic survey, said, “As long as we don't pave them over or make them overly tidy, our gardens can be very friendly spaces for bees. British gardening habits, whereby our gardens are in bloom for a large portion of the year, help by offering a diverse variety of flowering plants, which provide a consistent source of nectar and pollen. This is great news for bumblebees, which flock to plants like Pulmonaria early in the year and sedum late in the season.”
“It's vital that we do more to attract bees to the garden, but with concern over the disappearance of the honeybee we are forgetting that we need to conserve bumblebees too. The ongoing threat of modern farming techniques, which destroy the flowers bumblebees feed on and their nesting habitats, is just one of the reasons why we're urging people to fill their gardens with more of the plants that came out top in our survey. Leaving informal areas in your garden such as long grass, compost heaps and hedges and garden will also help to provide vital nesting sites.”
And it's not only flowers that could help bring the bumblebees back. This year's grow your own phenomenon could help too as Garden Organic also found that flowering shrubs and vegetable patches, which accounted for 23% of all sightings, also act as great attractants, with bees regularly visiting raspberries and beans.
The top twenty 'bee attracting' plants surveyed by Garden Organic members:
The # = Number of occasions each plant was recorded as being visited by bees
Family Latin Name Commmon Name #
Further findings from the survey:
- A total of 166 members took part in Garden Organic's 2008 bumblebee survey, and between them they recorded a total of 14,305 bees.
- The buff-tailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) was the most common species during this trial, with 4,356 being recorded.
- Of 166 participants, 128 participants stated that they actively encourage bees into their gardens.
- The survey found that the most popular way of attracting bees was by growing flowers � a technique used by 116 participants.
- Growing native flowers was also regarded as important by a 1/4 of the 166 participants.
- A total of 13 participants had bumblebee nest boxes in their gardens, but 3/4 thought they were unsuccessful compared to natural nesting habitats
- Grow a mixture of flowering plants to provide nectar and pollen from spring until winter
- Grow simple flowers, as their nectar and pollen is more accessible to bees
- Include native wildflowers such as foxglove, Viper's bugloss and Geranium species in the garden as all are popular with bees
- Tried and tested bee attracting plants include pulmonaria, comfrey, lavender, foxgloves, raspberries, marjoram and buddleia
- Don't forget to leave parts of your garden informal to provide nesting sites
- If you can, leave an area of your lawn uncut during summer to allow clover to flower
For more information contact Charlotte Corner on 02476 217707 or email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors
- Garden Organic is the UK's leading organic growing charity dedicated to researching and promoting organic gardening, farming and food and has been at the forefront of the organic horticulture movement for 50 years.
- The charity, which has over 40,000 supporters, reaches more than three million beneficiaries across the world and is based at Garden Organic Ryton in Warwickshire.
- The organisation runs major research and international development programmes that help growers across the UK and overseas adopt organic methods.
- To find out more visit www.gardenorganic.org.uk