21 February 2017
This issue is so important to farming and our natural environment that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs produced a National Pollinator Strategy in November 2014. The Department worked with a wide range of interested groups, including beekeepers’ associations, the Country Landowners Association, farmers’ associations, Friends of the Earth, the WI, the National Trust, the Royal Horticultural Society, wildlife trusts, the Soil Association, the University of Cambridge and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology.
The NPS is a ten-year plan to address the main problems facing pollinators, you can find more details and supporting documents can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/409431/pb14221-national-pollinators-strategy.pdf .
Some of the actions outlined in the plan are simple ones that anyone responsible for a patch of ground can do, to encourage a lot of people to take a few small steps to help. These actions are:
- Grow more flowers, shrubs and trees to provide nectar and pollen; even a few flowers in a window box will help
- Let it grow wild – try and leave a few wilder areas for bees, butterflies and other pollinators to nest or hibernate in
- Cut grass less often – if you let your lawn grow just a little, clover, self-heal and other bee-friendly plants will have a chance to flower. NB: if you go barefoot on the lawn, or if children play there, it might be better to skip this one and compensate elsewhere in the garden!
- Don’t disturb insect nests and hibernation spots – pollinators don’t just need nectar and pollen, they need place to nest and hibernate, too. They use holes and cracks in walls, dead wood, trees, hedgerows and areas round shrubs, small areas of longer grass, slopes with bare soil on them.
- Think carefully about whether to use pesticides– many of them kill both harmful and beneficial insects, including insects that prey on the pests you may want to eradicate.
There’s more information about each of these points at http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/bees-needs/fivesimpleactions
The national Friends of the Earth take these points a bit further at https://www.foe.co.uk/living/articles/10-easy-ways-help-bees-your-garden?gclid=CMzj8_vmhdICFWm-7QodXmEC7g with ten easy ways to help bees in your garden.
And here in the Memorial Gardens, we’re trying to follow them all here, to some extent; future posts will look at some of them in more detail, especially ‘Choose bee-friendly plants for your space’, ‘Plant through the seasons to provide year-round bee habitat’, ‘Save the bees and put away the pesticides’; ‘Use peat-free compost to save wildlife habitat’; and ‘Welcome beneficial insects in your garden’.
We’ll look at some of these in more detail in future posts.