Sunday, 9 August 2009

bees on allotments

In the news this week has been advice that gardeners should consider keeping bees.

A conversation at the allotments was on this subject too. At Leapool, we are not allowed to keep bees because there is a ban on keeping 'livestock' and bees are considered to fall into this category. There are many allotment societies that have this rule.

Allotments without bees would ultimately be allotments without fruit, beans or anything else requiring pollination. Bees need more friends. Allotment holders and bees are a marriage made in heaven. Clearly, the rule should be changed to allow plotholders to responsibly keep bees. But, I don't think that this is all of the answer.

Too few allotment holders are gardening for wildlife and encouraging beneficial insects through sympathetic use of flowers. Without changing the rules, allotment holders could ensure that there is adequate pollination of apples and runner beans by planting simple flowers amongst their vegetables.

Pictured is a great big queen red tailed bumble bee enjoying borage flowers. Borage is the best for bees. I encourage it to grow through vigorous potato haulm - or anywhere that it won't be in the way.

Also shown are calendula and convolvulus tricolor flowers that are growing in the brassicas. Hoverflies in particular love these two flowers.

So, whilst beekeeping on allotments should be encouraged, much more can be done by individual plot holders to make their allotments 'insect friendly'.

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