5 ways to help pollinators
We've started our own wildflower meadow, and are working on cutting less around the estate to leave more for pollinators. We've come up with a few ways you can help pollinators where you live.
1. Grow, don't mow
Leave a portion of your garden grass uncut and let the dandelions, clovers and thistles flower. You might have considered them weeds, rather than flowers, but together they can be quite beautiful!
2. Plant pollinator friendly plants
Whether you're a keen gardener or don't have a garden, you can still support pollinators by planting pollinator friendly plants in your garden, in pots or windowboxes. Annuals like cosmos, perenials like bellflower and even herbs like rosemary, lavender and sage are all great sources of food. Note that traditional bedding plants like gerianiums and begonias have very little pollen.
3. Grow your own
Your garden fruit and veg plot needs pollinators to provide seeds and fruit - the perfect system. Apple blossoms, blackberry bushes, runner beans, strawberries and tomatoes are all pollinator friendly.
Busy bee facts and figs
- In Ireland, we're home to 98 types of bee
- From this number 77 are solitary bees
- Some solitary bees can nest in boxes but 62 of the types prefer to mine underground
4. Make a home for a bee
The commercial bee homes are great, but don't forget about the mining bees. If possible, leave a patch of bare earth somewhere flat and sunny on a southern or eastern facing bank. This is the perfect spot for a solitary mining bee.
5. Reduce pesticide use
If possible, remove weeds in your garden manually, or if necessary try spot treatement of weedkiller rather than blanket spraying. Spray after sunset on a dry, still day (easier said than done!)
We've joined up with the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan who have put together great information and data on helping pollinators, and the facts cited here are taken from "Gardens: actions to help pollinators", produced by the National Biodiversity Data Centre. Visit www.pollinators.ie to find out more, and www.rhs.org.uk/perfectforpollinators for a full list of pollinator supporting plants.