What could we be doing for bees in London?
‘I am often asked about what planting individuals could establish for bees across the capital. Honey bees especially love mature trees as a nectar source. Limes and acacias are particularly important but sycamores, chestnuts, hawthorns and blackthorns are good too, however although the planting of these is an essential thing, they do not provide instant bee fodder.’
What should we be planting?
‘I recommend early pollen sources such as crocuses, snowdrops, daffodils and bluebells which are excellent early pollen yielders, pollen is rich in protein and fantastic for young bee growth. The autumn is also a key time, with ivy and buddleia providing late nectar flows, allowing the colony to build up for the barren months ahead. London is 65% green space but I believe there could be greater nectar sources and safe havens.’
What if I don’t have a garden?
‘If, like me, you have no garden or roof terrace, then I’d like to introduce to you “guerilla gardening”. Have you ever thought that your local roundabout looked a little shabby or a local patch of wasteland needs beautifying? If so, just grab some wild flower seeds and scatter. We have just started selling bee bombs here at Bee HQ. When soaked they resemble a soil hand grenade and are fantastic as they contain everything you will need to start your own little wild flower patch – just soak and chuck.
‘You could also persuade your local park or open space to reduce or stop their use of pesticide – the cumulative affect on bees is now well proven and catastrophic. There is a real move to make London free of these terrors, like Paris already is, and the sooner it happens the better. Persuading local authorities to make everything less manicured is also important, not only for bees but other wildlife such as butterflies. Long grasses are a haven and can also look wonderful. I passed Blackheath common the other morning and it had the most amazing white clover covering it… two days later it was fully trimmed! Finally, it’s been a terrible year for honey production in the UK so where possible try and buy local or British honey.’ Sonya Barber
For info about Steve, see thelondonhoneycompany.co.uk