Down on the Allotment

Matron grows vegetables and fruit in a courtyard garden. Which edibles will tolerate less than ideal growing conditions. Discovering how veggies can grow in partial shade.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Flowers for Bees

 I was listening to a wonderful book on Radio 4 last week,  'A Sting in the Tale' by Dave Goulson was read all week by Tim McInnerny.  A lifelong passion for bees and a wonderful scientific study about their behaviour.   As my blog is very nearly 7 years old in a week or so, I thought a change of heart is necessary.  Regular readers will know that "Matron does not do flowers! - you can't eat flowers!"
 Well, it is high time that in the interest of our planet, I do something extra to help the bees.  Apparently the pollen of legumes (peas and beans) contains 8 times more protein than other flowers.  Bees can discriminate at sight or smell whether a flower has been pollinated recently by another bee, then choose another flower.  Bees are highly discriminating in their choice of flowers, in fact the flowers of herbs and vegetables are preferable to common garden flowers.
 Most bedding plants (petunias, lobelia, geranium) are of little interest to bees, but herbs such as rosemary, borage, sage and lavender are favourites. 
So this year in the allotment I am going to leave a few of my vegetables to set flowers and encourage bees.  I am going to plant a few sweet peas in amongst my climbing beans.  I am going to leave some of my overwintered leeks to go to flower.  Just for the bees.  I hope you will consider doing something like this on your patch.


At 7:38 PM, Blogger Kerry said...

Great idea.

We had a near enough blank canvas with our plot (took it on last october) so I've planted a wildlife and bee friendly hedge and have just sent off for the lavender plants free with the latest gardeners world.

At 10:51 PM, Blogger Dawn said...

Yes I indeed will. Thank you for the wonderful suggestion.

At 1:28 AM, Blogger Scarecrow said...

Ya!! Matron is growing flowers...the bees are needing all the help we can give them at the moment!
Not only the bees but other beneficial insects will thank you too!

At 6:48 AM, Blogger Mark Willis said...

A very worthy plan! The vast quantities of bedding plants sold by our garden centres could so easily be replaced by things like Thyme and Chives, which would still look good but please the bees more.

At 9:36 AM, Blogger Dewberry said...

I've noticed that bumblebees, for instance, are attracted to blue flowers, they always hoover around the blue ones :)

At 10:25 AM, Blogger Sue Garrett said...

You could also grow phacelia as a green manure - if you let a few flower the bees will love you, The flower shape is important too as legume flowers are find for long tongued bees but not the best choice for the short tongued ones that prefer daisy type flower.

At 12:31 PM, Blogger Jopan said...

Hi Matron, I've learnt something from you today and I'm going to try and grow more herbs in my garden. Thank you for sharing this.

At 4:12 PM, Blogger Celia Hart said...

Those Salmon Flowered Peas look good!

I listened to the book serial too, and was shocked that Bumble Bees are bred in Turkey to be exported all over the world!

There's nothing like sage and thyme flowers for attracting bees to the veg plot!


At 2:52 AM, Anonymous Alain C. said...

I just noticed that bees (wild and domesticated) are very attracted to currants and gooseberries which are in bloom in our garden now. They also attract hummingbirds. The fowers are insignificant but you can actually hear the buzz as you are getting near the bushes.

At 9:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a Yank from Connecticut and I love reading your blog. The bee population here in New England is declining rapidly. Everyone who has a vegetable garden should plant some flowers and let some veg grow to flower to encourage the remaining bees to thrive.


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