UK Home Garden Diversity Aids Suffering Bee Population

Heather Callaghan

Activist Post

If you plant it, they will come. A new study confirms the crucial aid that typical British gardeners might unknowingly provide to rapidly declining pollinators.

According to Ecologists at Plymouth University, it matters not to busy bees where they are are getting their food sources. When searching for nectar and pollen, urban gardens make happy destinations for bumblebees. In fact, it might seem counter intuitive but urban dwellings can provide a safer area for bees that otherwise might get exposed to so much agricultural spraying.

Europe has fiercely felt the bee decline, prompting a pesticide moratorium after initially crumbling to corporate interests.

Dr Mick Hanley, Lecturer in Ecology at Plymouth University, said the study showed the continued importance of promoting diversity and encouraging gardeners to cast their net wide when choosing what to cultivate.

He said:

Urban gardens are increasingly recognised for their potential to maintain or even enhance biodiversity. In particular, the presence of large densities and varieties of flowering plants supports a number of pollinating insects whose range and abundance has declined as a consequence of agricultural intensification and habitat loss. By growing a variety of plants from around the world, gardeners ensure that a range of food sources is available for many different pollinators. But until now we have had very little idea about how the origins of garden plants actually affect their use by our native pollinators.

The study showed that bees simply visited plants in proportion to flower availability. Indeed, of the six most commonly visited garden plants, only one – Foxglove – was a British native.

Dr Hanley added: 

As a general rule, bees will go wherever there are flowers available. However, if native plants were to disappear completely from our towns and cities, the long-term survival of some of our common pollinators – like the ‘garden bumblebee’ – could be in jeopardy. In addition to growing truly native plants like foxgloves, where possible, gardeners can help native pollinators by setting aside a small area to allow native brambles, vetches, dead nettles, and clovers to grow. But as long as some native species are available in nearby allotments, parks, or other green spaces, a combination of commonly-grown garden plants from all around the globe will help support our urban bumblebees for future generations.

This is all the more reason to support biodiversity in growing, and support the right to have yard gardens. Let this be a signal to bureaucrats who keep ramming through “sustainable development,” i.e. Agenda 21 initiatives that have nothing to do with “sustainability” or development – unless you’re talking about “smart grid” urban sprawls. That is, the nonsensical banning of lawn gardens in the name of “aesthetics” which could further diminish bee populations.

Heather Callaghan is a natural health blogger and food freedom activist. You can see her work at and Like at Facebook.

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