Yesterday’s blog post honored farming brothers Mark and Paul Hayward of Dingley Dell Pork Farm in Suffolk, for planting 80 acres with a blended seed mix of birds-foot trefoil, phacelia, sainfoin, musk mallow, alsike clover, campium and vetch. These flowers are loaded with nectar and bumblebees go crazy for them. The Bumblebee Conservation Trust estimates that about 1 million bees are fed on that land daily.
Bees are critically important to backyard orchards and vegetable gardens. There are many ways to provide food in your gardenscape for native bees and honeybees, by planting nectar-rich ornamental and native flowering plants. Bees need both pollen and flower nectar to survive. Nectar is a fine source of carbohydrates for them, and pollen nourishes their young and provides them with a balanced diet.
Climate change is disrupting pollination and the synergy between pollinators and flowering plants, so it is impacting plant and flower growth. It causes habitat loss and nutritional deficiencies for bees. The lack of variety in their diet is putting bees at risk. Increased temperatures also affect pollinators.
How Bees Can See The Invisible is a 2:57-minute totally fascinating insight into the superior vision of bees. One of their many super powers is that they can see the invisible:
A report in Endangered Species Coalition indicates that climate change is responsible for making flowers bloom half a day earlier each year. So plants that are now blooming a month earlier than they did 45 years ago don’t get pollinated.
When bees have no food, this leads to colony collapse disorder (CCD) where mature bees abandon the hive and younger bees. A major reason for this disorder is poor nutrition, but bee pests, diseases and chemical toxins as well as varroa mites and other pathogens also play a role according to the University of Florida, and the US Department of Agriculture says the disorder has existed since 2006.
Bees pollinate most fruits, nuts and vegetables grown in the US for human consumption. Bees truly are “busy bees” and without them we would be lost. Some experts believe we could starve. There are other types of food not pollinated by bees, like wheat and barley. Our diets would be bland and not very nutritious, and our world would be so much less colorful.
Apple trees need bee pollination to produce apples because they don’t have separate male and female flowers. When bees transport pollen between two types of apple trees that are different cultivars, apples are produced. If a bee deposits pollen from one Honeycrisp apple tree to a second Honeycrisp apple tree, no fruits will come of it. Whereas if the pollen is from a different apple tree like a Haralson, fruit might develop.
Cucumbers, on the other hand, have two types of flowers growing on their vines. The female flower has an ovary beneath its petals and a stigma which receives pollen grains from the male flower. The male flower has pollen-producing anthers. Pollination happens for the cucumber when bees visit flowers on the cucumber vine and accidentally collect pollen grains from the male flower then deposit them on the female flower. In areas where bees are scarce, so are cucumbers.
Bees are the perfect pollination solution for immovable plants and trees. When you help bees you also help plants and trees. Consider planting native and ornamental flowering plants in your garden or on your land so there is bountiful food for native bees and honeybees. Here is a rich resource of ideas about what to plant.
Celebrate bees and other pollinators by planting flowers to nourish them.