The honeybee kills more people around the world each year than all the poisonous snakes combined, but the creature responsible for the most human deaths worldwide is the mosquito, by a considerable margin.”
Niall Edworthy, “The Curious Gardener’s Almanac” (2006)
Garden Lore: bee food
We were interested to read an article last week reporting that Britons are being urged to plant bee-friendly flowers rather than to try home beekeeping. Amateur beekeeping is not for the ignorant but well-meaning enthusiast. It needs to be done properly or not at all and in London there is simply not enough food to feed the existing bees without adding more.
The plight of bees is a global problem. Without getting too carried away on this matter, the bees need as much help as they can get. What every gardener can do is to plant some food for the bees. Basically, bees need flowering plants with visible stamens. The simplest and one of the most effective ways is simply to sow some seed of flowering annuals along with your vegetables. Let one or two plants go to seed and then weed out those surplus to requirements in future years. Bees are needed in the vegetable garden and orchard in order for some plants to crop so make the environment more inviting for them. Besides, what is not to like about cosmos and poppies between your cabbages? Browse the seed stand or catalogue and pick flowers with plenty of golden stamens visible and a healthy track record. Hollyhocks can be vulnerable to rust and mildew and nobody needs more of these problems in the vegetable patch but most daisies, single poppies and calendula are fine and there are many other options.
First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.