Gardening Times

BRITAIN'S wildlife and plants have been declining rapidly since the 1970s.

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Why?

Factors including decreasing natural habitats due to the expansion of our towns and cities, the use of chemicals, intensive farming practices and of course climate change is putting pressure on the countryside.

Many of our pollinators are struggling to find food when they wake up from their winter slumber as they've used most of their fat reserves up.

What is a pollinator?

Pollinators are insects and animals that move pollen from the male plant to the female plant and vitally important as they continuously work in our gardens, fields and greenhouses pollinating fruit and vegetables.

They include bees, hoverflies, butterflies, beetles, some birds and bats to name a few.

As there are many different species of pollinators, its best to provide a selection of food sources and shelter to get full benefits of these gardeners friends.

The most important one is the wild bee, these little black and yellow insects (not all bees are black and yellow) are social creatures who are born to work hard during their short life of nine-12 months.

Only female bees carrying eggs hibernate through the winter.

Once the queen finds a suitable nest whether it's a hole in a tree, bird box or in your shed, she will gather enough food to live on while she broods her first batch of female workers.

When the eggs are laid it takes approximately five weeks to produce an adult bee.

These female bees are smaller than the queen and take on duties as cleaner and guard the hive, some become hunters finding flowers to collect nectar and pollen.

Later in the summer the queen lays eggs which produce male bees.

These bees leave the nest and go looking for females to mate with, not all males and females mate and eventually die as does the old Queen.

The cycle begins again as the new queens go into hibernation as we head into the winter.

Wild bees pollinate 80% of our crops, more than the domesticated honeybee.

To help them, go organic if you can, make your own compost, improve your garden to encourage natural pest controllers.

Even bee-friendly plants and seeds may have been treated with pesticides affecting the pollen and nectar and therefore moving into food chain. For more info, e-mail countrysiderangers @glasgow.gov.uk.

Home and Garden

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