Farmers are increasingly being asked to provide for pollinators.
Here we provide some basic facts that will improve both your knowledge and understanding of bees and their vital role as pollinators upon which much of the world’s food depends.
How do bees carry pollen?
When it comes to pollination this is a key factor.
The red arrows on the images above point to balls of wet pollen on honey and bumble but dry pollen on the solitary bee.
It is estimated that wet pollen is less than 20% viable for pollination purposes while dry may be around 80% viable.
When are bees active?
Depending on the species and the weather, bees are active from mid March to September.
What flower should I plant for bees?
Plant as many different shapes, colours and sizes as reasonably possible. This is because bees have a variety of tongue lengths and shapes.
Long-tongued bees such as Bombus hortorum (small garden bumblebee) has a tongue that is three quarters its body length so may be 15mm long, while some of the small solitaries Andrena minutuloides have a very small tongue of about 1mm.
What is pollen?
Pollen is produced on the anthers (male flower organs) and is essentially protein used to build up the queen and feed the developing young.
What is nectar?
Nectar is essentially sugar and provides energy – flying fuel.
When should flowers be available?
Ideally March to September. It is difficult to buy flowers for early season (March to May) flowering, so bees are reliant on ‘wild ‘species such as Dandelion, Wintercress, Cowslip and Primrose or tree species such as Hawthorn, Goat Willow, Blackthorn and Field Maple.
Mid and late season (June to September) flowers can be purchased as a variety of commercially available mixes.
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