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Bees and Hoverflies on site

Over the 13 years of Tatnam Organic Patch, we have planted lots of flowers to encourage natural predators onto site, but especially welcome bees and hoverflies. There’s lots of great resources on the Internet around bees, I’ll not attempt to summarise them.

Some plants we have especially for bees;

Borage

  • vigarous hardy herbacious annual plant with lovely blue flowers
  • Once established, easily self-sows
  • flowers taste of cucumber – great to garnish salads, or in Pimms
  • leaves are used as a pasta filling in parts of Italy
  • companion plant to protect or nurse legumes, spinach, brassicas, tomatoes and strawberries
  • flowers refill quickly with nectar, which is why the bees love visiting them so much

 

Cow Parsley

Bee on Cow Parsley

  • Biennial plant (flowers in the second year)
  • also known as Wild Chervil, but in the same family as Hemlock and Hogweed, so maybe best left for the bees
  • Also related to the Carrot and Parsley
  • Our plants tend to get covered in bees

 

 

 

Beehives

We have left short bundles of bamboo sticks and other hollow stemmed canes (Cow parsley is one you can use), which anyone can quickly sort and hang in their garden for overwintering and for bumble bees to lay their eggs in.

Bridget Strawbridge did a great short film of mason bees laying in a “Bee Hotel” in her garden http://youtu.be/Ohgyz5Bid5U

We haveĀ  also attracted 3 beekeepers onto the site over the years. The best location on site seems to be at the far end, away from the active areas, and with a tree to the south, which we were told encourages the bees to fly upwards, as they always leave the hive to the South to orientate themselves.

The first beekeeper had a conventional hive, and we were all stunned (including him) when he had 100 pounds of honey in the first year. He became concerned that someone might get stung during our school visits, and decided to leave site. The second also used a conventional hive, and stayed a few years. Our current beekeeper has opted for a top-bar hive, said to be a more natural way for bees to build their honeycomb downwards.

Bees will range over up to a 3 mile radius fromĀ  their hive, so our resource is a pollenator for gardens across much of the centre of Poole and Oakdale.

Different styles of hive are summarised at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beehive

Hoverflies

Our greenhouse has sets of louvred slats at ground level. On summer days (when we are there or forget), these are opened, and we have planted a michelmas daisy outside them, to attract hoverflies, in hope that some will wander into the greenhouse, being excellent predators for aphids, as are Ladybird nymphs.

Andy, Jan 2012