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Tuesday
Dec112012

Plight of the Bumble Bee

EchiumBees are of such fundamental importance to our food production! But recently colony numbers have declined (up to 85% ) in Europe and North America. These major pollenators of crops such as wheat, barley, fruit and animal feed are in some danger.

Recently in the news has been the published results of research by Stirling University to find why this is happening to our bee populations. Led by Professor Dave Goulson, this research has identified an insecticide with active ingredient ‘Neonicotinoid’ as a strong contender.

A derivative of nicotine, this agent has been found to affect the nervous system of bees, even at low exposure levels. Neonicotinoid has been increasingly used for crop protection since the 1990s. But many companies that make this agent were quick to defend its continued manufacture and use. When representatives were up before the Environmental Audit Committee they would rather blame viral and habitat loss as the main cause of colony loss. The government also confirmed that Neonocotinoid still complies with “legal restrictions”. (DEFRA)

Could this be yet another example of the league of commerce lording it over common sense? Can we afford to be complacent of this potentially serious issue?

As gardeners, however, we can and do take positive action.  Bee populations are now healthiest in suburbia. There are more flowers and less pesticides in our towns and cities. Most of us are aware of bee friendly plants.

The Echium is another one you might like to try! This bi/triennial plant, a native of the Canary Islands, can be grown from seed. I got mine from Plant World Seeds. Echium pininana is the one shown (I grew this one in Warminster). From that one plant I have self set seedlings popping up everywhere.
 
Echiums are in the Borage family that is why bees love them so much. As long as they are kept dry, they are frost tolerant. A truly amazing plant!

As part of a planting plan some have been planted in a Batheaston garden. We'll keep you informed of their progress!

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Reader Comments (1)

Last year the bumblebees loved my echium Tower of Jewel 'tree.' It grew to 10 feet (3 meters) all in one year. It threw lots of seed around so now I've got several more, but some have gotten frosted so I've got to protect the rest of them. I can't say enough about this plant for attracting the bees. They were on it mid May until about September.
http://solarbeez.com/2013/11/13/no-these-are-not-giant-marijuana-plants/
I am a little envious of your blue 'towers'...mine are white.

December 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

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