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daydaisy

I am worried about the lack of insects in my garden. I have four lavender plants in flower and have only seen two bees on them when years back they would have been alive with buzzing noises. I live near agricultural land and I am wondering if they have been heavily sprayed. I don't use any harmful sprays and try to garden organically. 😒

I've noticed a considerable lack of bees this year, I have lots of plants which are usually buzzing and moving due to the amount of bee activity.  I read an article a few weeks ago and it said that there is widespread spraying of plants being sold at garden centres and supermarkets, all very worrying really.

fidgetbones

To mitigate the damage done locally, try a nectar bar for insects,  single flowers with lots of nectar, a variety from Spring to Autumn, and most important , habitats for those insects to hibernate, bug houses etc. Try not to be too tidy.

Pete8

I've got a patch of veronicastrum and agastache - the flowers are dripping with bees all day long

B3

Wild marjoram is good too. If you can't get hold of it, get cultivated marjoram or oregano and let it go to seed then Bob'syeruncle.

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Dovefromabove

And in late summer ... sedums, especially Sedum Spectabile ......... never fails to attract insects of all sorts 

Victoria Sponge

How alarming, I would be most concerned especially as you garden in a wildlife friendly way...

You could try getting in touch with your local bee-keepers association with regards the farmers spraying. I recently got to meet the Newcastle and Tyne and Wear beekeepers associations and I'm sure they had an initiative with local farmers where the spraying was done at night or else beekeepers were warned in advance so the honeybees could be kept inside.

Ignorantly I thought the beekeepers would be all about the honeybee and their own industry but I was wrong and found they have interest in all pollinators and have various projects and initiatives to help bees. For example, I believe Tyne and Wear is trying to create a continuous green belt in the region by encouraging the planting of fruit trees etc.

Personally I suspect many bumblebee nests are disturbed or destroyed by people uncomfortable with having them in their gardens or near their homes...

daydaisy

I have a bug hotel in my Rowan tree and grow most of the plants mentioned plus loads of poppies

which are usually popular with hover flies and bees. The only positive 

thing I can think of to say is that my three apple trees are loaded with fruit so there must be some 

insects about to have pollinated the flowers. The idea of contacting bee keepers is a good thing to do 

and I will do something about that. 

Fidgetbones..........no worry there, I could never be accused of being too neat or tidy, around the garden or house 

Dovefromabove

As you've obviously had bees around earlier in the year, this may be a temporary blip ... perhaps there's something else blooming at the moment in your area which is more attractive to bees than your lavender ... some Lime trees in blossom perhaps, or several acres of field beans which would be blooming just now ...... bees can't resist them! 

Have a look at the Bumblebee Conservation Trust website, if you haven't already

http://bumblebeeconservation.org/

I am a member of the BBCT - the newsletter that they produce has many interesting facts about the plight of bumblebees and other pollinators, including the impact of agrochemicals and also lots of advice about planting for bees.

Locally, we are fortunate to have a good bee population, probably due in part to the surrounding farmland all being grazing and not arable.

Our garden is planted with a diverse range of native and non-native plants to attract pollinators, starting with crocuses early in the spring and going right through to autumn with late-flowering single-flowered roses, dahlias and sedum.

Species that we see regularly include: White-Tailed Bumblebee, Buff-Tailed Bumblebee, Garden Bumblebee, Early Bumblebee, Red-Tailed Bumblebee, Common Carder Bee and Tree Bumblebee, honeybees and solitary bees. We sometimes see cuckoo bumblebees as well.

Top favourite plants in our garden throughout the year are: comfrey, hellebores, daffodils, crocuses, Anemone blanda, bluebells, Aubrieta, Primula species (including cowslip), foxgloves, apple blossom, Pieris, Aquilegia, Centaurea montana, Lamium, herbaceous geraniums (especially Geranium phaeum 'Samobor' which all the bees adore, G. x magnificum which the honeybees favour and G. pratense 'Splish Splash' which the Tree Bumblebees love), Geum, Heucheras (especially 'Marmalade'), single and semi-double roses, single and semi-double Dahlias, Delphinium, Lupins, Sweet Peas, Echinops, Linaria, Cerinthe major, thyme, mint and lemon balm, amongst many others.

Last edited: 07 July 2017 10:35:59

Firefly0

Weather does have a huge impact on bees. If it's been wet where you are it might have discouraged them.

Mark56

It's a good year in the SE for bees, drier & sunnier conditions with minimal rainy days. A particularly splendid year for honey harvesting too, I hear. 

However, you are right about the spraying. It won't remain within the fields, wild flowers are often affected near-by & therefore poison the bees. Check out the recent study results in to neonicotinoid insecticides in farming & it's impact. The latest episode of Countryfile covered it as well. 

Dove makes a good point about other near by flowers, it's certainly the case for bluebell woods and rapeseed fields in May/June too. 

A continued supply of pollen and nectar are necessary from February through till November/December. Queen bumbles emerge from hibernation & look to nest where there's lots of Spring colour (usually bulbs) around March/April, sometimes even earlier. You can read up on ground locations that they like to use & even buy 'bumblebee homes' for the garden. 

I find Borage, echiums, Phacelia & purple toadflax the most popular. Remember certain flowers require a pollinator with a longer 'tongue' like bumbles, where as others are more suited to honey and solitary bees. Planting in large clumps is also better, it's more eye catching for us & them. Big shrubs with plenty of blooms are also ideal here, Pycrantha, Weigela & Escallonia.

Leaving your hedges long so they flower is also amazing, we had almost a full hive on our privet this year because it was allowed to get longer & flower. They shouldn't be pruned before August-September because of nesting birds. 

Purple/Blue tones are also the favourite flower colours. 

Last edited: 07 July 2017 14:13:41

Firefly0

It's not very related to the thread, but Mark, I have been reading up about the vision of pollinators and am finding it quite fascinating.

These articles are on why bees and most insect pollinators can't see red and why some rare people have ultra-violet vision (like Monet). In hotter climes (where most of our UK red flowers come from originally) the reds are pollinated by birds, who have the colour receptors in their eye for red. In evolutionary terms -  'niche partition'. Apparently bees eyes have most receptors for purple, violet and blue.

My favourite flowers are always dark reds, which poses a bit of a problem for a wildlife garden.

http://www.beeculture.com/bees-see-matters/   (A bit rambly but interesting)

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC521733/

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