Thursday, 4 June 2009

bee food

Trev was complaining of there being no bees at the allotments. And he's right, there are very few around.Early flowering plants like broad beans need pollinating insects - or we have no beans! One third of our food comes from flowers pollinated by insects.

But as I looked across the allotments, the consistent colour was green. What are we doing to attract and support bees at the monent. Not enough, is the answer.

I have a whole range of plants that will provide food for bees later this month and well into the autumn.

But after the primroses, cowslips , apples and plums there is a 'hungry gap' for bees and pollinating insects on our allotment that stretches through April and May. What can fill this gap?

Here's one candidiate, photographed at the Hope Farm RSPB reserve in Bedfordshire, England. It is the overwintering phacelia.

This can be sown as a green manure, but the advice when planting green manures is to dig them in or chop them down before the flower. Little use to bees!

This phacelia crop was considered highly attractive to bees and I will seriously consider planting areas that will host broad beans next year with phacelia in the autumn.

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