Gardening for WIldlife
Sadly, our native bluebell is losing ground to an insidious competitor: the Spanish bluebell. Introduced by the Victorians as a garden plant, the Spanish bluebell has made it 'over the garden wall' and out into the wild. Here, it crossbreeds with our native plants and produces fertile hybrids with a mix of characteristics. How to tell the difference between a native bluebell and a Spanish bluebell
Bees are facing a "perfect storm" of multiple problems from pesticides, diseases, modern agriculture and climate change which have a combined effect over time of weakening bees and causing the dramatic collapse of colonies seen over the past decade. This is not just a problem for the bees but also for flowering plants and anyone growing food because in losing bees we are losing our main pollinators. Bees are not only vital for pollinating 75% of our food crops but they are also crucial for the survival of our wild plants which in turn provide food for insects, birds and other animals.
Neonicotinoid pesticides have been linked to this decline of bees and there are demands to see them permanently banned in the UK.
03/10/17 - How safe are Garden Centre plants? Nearly three quarters of the plants bought by the research team at the University of Sussex led by Professor Dave Goulson were tested positive for insecticides. Worryingly, many of these plants – such as lavender, bergamot and honeysuckle – are sold as ideal for pollinators. “We bought flowering plants from a range of major outlets; Wyevale (the biggest garden centre chain in the UK), Aldi, B&Q and Homebase. We deliberately bought plants that are known to be attractive to bees and butterflies; most of them had a bee-friendly logo. We screened the leaves, pollen and nectar to see if they contained pesticides. We found that most of these plants contained a cocktail of pesticides, usually a mixture of fungicides and insecticides. Seventy six percent of them (22 out of 29) contained at least one insecticide, and 38 per cent contained two or more insecticides. One flowering heather plant contained five different insecticides and five different fungicides – a veritable toxic bouquet. 70% of the plants contained neonicotinoids (insecticides that are notorious for their harmful effects on bees.) These included the three neonics banned for use on flowering crops in the EU (for the technically minded, 38 per cent contained imidacloprid, 14 per cent contained thiamethoxam and one contained clothianidin)."
15/03/13 - UK government's opposition to regulation is putting bees at risk Caroline Lucas - By failing to back EU proposals for a ban on pesticides, lawmakers have prioritised commercial interests over ecological wellbeing.
29/01/13 - B&Q and Wickes pledge to withdraw products harmful to bees B&Q is banning a lawn grub pesticide which is the only product it sells containing imidacloprid, one of the neonicotinoid family of insecticides, and Wickes will later this year take off products containing the related thiamethoxam compound.
16/01/13 - Insecticide 'unacceptable' danger to bees, report finds. Along with a third compound, clothianidin, these are the three neonicotonoids identified by the European Food Safety Authority as threatening serious damage to bees.
Campaigns to help bees
Garden Organic's Bee Heard Campaign and Friends of the Earth's The Bee Cause submitted a combined petition of over 64,000 names to Number 10 on 29 January 2013. Download The Bee Cause '20 things you need to know about bees' booklet for more info and ideas, including bee-friendly plants and gardening.
The WI's SOS for Honey Bees campaign was launched after a resolution calling on the Government to increase funding for research into bee health was passed at their 2009 AGM.