Bees and other pollinating insects play an essential role in ecosystems. A third of all our food depends on their pollination. Gardens offer some of the most important habitats for the wide variety of bees and other pollinators found in the UK.
- There are over 300 species of bee in the UK.
- Is a social bee that forms large colonies overwinter.
- Colony may contain 60,000 bees.
- There are 260 species including: Andrena, Osmia, Megachile and Lasioglossum.
- Females of solitary bees constructs and provisions a nest on their own.
- Will often nest close to one another.
- Is a social bee.
- Nests die out in late Summer or early Autumn.
- There are 24 species of bumblebees in Britain but only 12 species are commonly seen in gardens.
- A nest may contain 200 bees.
Why are pollinators in decline?
Pollinators face many stressors. Honey bees and other pollinators species such as bumble bees suffer from exposure to a parasitic mite disease called Varroa Destructor. These are tiny red-brown parasites that feed and live on adult bees, they will reproduce on larvae, causing weakening of bees as well passing on viruses.
The loss of biodiversity and the wide spread use of pesticides are major threats for wild pollinators. Farmers spray crops with a variety of products designed to protect from pests, but it is believed that a number of these are causing a decline bees.
What can we do?
- Ensure to have plenty of nectar & pollen rich plants.
- Avoid using pesticides as this will harm your pollinators. To keep pests away, plant marigolds and tomatoes to repel greenfly.
- Provide a sheltered area using upturned, broken plant pots with opening points for entry.
- Create a bee hotel by using a bunch of bamboo canes or a bee hotel housing can be purchased from many places.
- Provide water for pollinators.
- Become a beekeeper.
What flowers are best for your pollinators?
- Globe Thistle
- Sweet Pea
Butterflies are the second largest pollinator, after bees. Whilst the caterpillar eats leaves, the adult generally feeds from the nectar of flowers. There are 59 butterfly species in Britain, these are partial to different wildflowers and plants, whether at the larval stage or as an adult. The following list is a sample of the plants and wildflowers favoured by certain caterpillars and butterflies:
- Acmon Blue – Buckwheat, lupines, milkvetch
- American Painted Lady – Cudweed, everlast
- Bairds Swallowtail – Dragon Sagebrush
- Black Swallowtail – Parsley, dill, fennel, common rue
- Coral Hairstreak – Wild black cherry, American and Chickasaw plum, black chokeberry
- Dun Skipper – Sedges, grasses including purpletop
- Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Wild black cherry, ash, tulip tree, willow, sweetbay, basswood
- Giant Swallowtail – Prickly ash, citrus, common rue, hoptree, gas plant, torchwood
- Gray Comma – Gooseberry, azalea, elm
- Great Purple Hairstreak – Mistletoe
- Gulf Fritillary – Maypops, other passion vines
- Henrys Elfin – Redbud, dahoon and yaupon hollies, maple leaved viburnum, blueberries
- Monarch – milkweeds
- Painted Lady Cosmopolite – Thistles, mallows, nievitas, yellow fiddleneck
- Pygmy Blue – Saltbush, lambs quarters, pigweed
- Red Admiral/White Admiral – Wild cherries, black oats, aspens, yellow and black birch
- Silver Spotted Skipper – locusts, wisteria, other legumes
- Spicebush Swallowtail – Sassafras, spicebush
- Sulphurs – Clover, peas, vetch, alfalfa, asters
- Variegated Fritillary – Passion flower, maypop, violets, stonecrop, purslane