May was probably one of the wettest and windiest months in the garden yet it was also one in which we planted the most flowers in the community garden. Thanks to our underground glass-house we were able to sow our flower seeds early on and keep the seedlings sheltered and cosy until springtime. Flowers not only bring a garden to life, illuminating dark corners and conjuring up beautiful floral scents, they are also crucial in attracting one of our furrier friends to our growing space…bees.
Bees are the silent workforce behind nearly all of the food we grow, they are vital to our existence on this earth and without them the world would be a barren place to live in. Bees pollinate many of our fruit and vegetable plants such as beans, squash, cucumber, apple and pear trees and without their free labour, many plants would never set fruit which would mean no food for us. Many growers give thanks to bees for the higher yields from their crops because of their role as natural pollinators. Bees need pollen and nectar to survive so through their search for food, the pollen sticks to the bees meaning that they transfer pollen from one plant to another, pollinating the bloom.
Sadly, the bee population of Europe is in decline. Our increasing use of pesticides and climate change, which is destroying their habitats has meant that in recent years the bee population of Europe has dropped by more than half. Some would even go as far as saying that this is a warning sign of our deteriorating relationship with Mother Earth.
All is not lost though, luckily for us, bees love flowers and it is never too late to welcome bees into your garden with some vibrant flora. At Moy Hill Community Garden, we are hoping to attract as many bees as possible to the garden this year and we have planted lots of native bee friendly flowers such as lupine, cosmos and sunflowers to keep the bees buzzing as bees are generally more attracted to plants they are already familiar with. Another tip to attract bees to your growing space would be to plant a range of different coloured flowers as bee’s have coloured vision so they can pick out flowers that offer nectar and pollen. They are especially attracted to white, purple, blue, violet and yellow flowers.
Some organic growers have even taken to bee-keeping themselves to ensure these natural pollinators will stick around. Recently we have been learning to look after bees by Moy House where we have a few hives. Our local queen bee Sinead Finn has been teaching us about bee keeping and making sure the bees are happy and healthy using the most natural bee keeping methods that don’t interfere too much with the bees instinctive habits. We have learnt so much already about how bees live and their habits, especially their instinct to work together as a team.
So, I think it’s about time we all started to celebrate these amazing creatures by inviting them into our gardens and helping them to help us. Whenever you have a few hours to spare come on down to the garden and plant some flowers, not only is it good for the soul, it’s also good for the bees.