Bees prefer poorly maintained gardens over perfectly preened ones

Posted: 06/06/2012

In the UK, the number of honeybees has halved in the previous 25 years and bumblebee numbers have fallen a detrimental 60% since 1970. Three species have become instinct and an astonishing seven have suffered serious decline.

These appalling figures is why more has to be done to save the UK’s population of bees, and a new study has established some interesting findings that could help bees thrive once again.

The new study suggests that bees prefer gardens in poorer neighbourhoods than gardens in rich, suburban areas. The research was carried out by Leeds University who found that there were double the amount of bees in poorly maintained gardens compared to gardens in richer areas, with a higher number of floral flowers.

This is due to the fact that many of the bedding plants used in gardens kept by richer people are low in pollen but weeds such as Dandelions, more commonly found in gardens that are poorly maintained are high in pollen, therefore attract more bees.

The assumption that bees prefer poorer areas due to the higher number of weeds is because people in those areas tend to accept weed types plants, including clover in their lawns, which is also high in pollen for bees. Where people who live in richer areas have to keep up appearances and so maintain an immaculate garden, eliminating any weeds and only having perfect lush green lawns.

Dr Mark Goddard, the leader of the research project spoke to the Telegraph and said, ‘Certainly when I interviewed people, there was more pressure in wealthy areas to keep up appearances by keeping lawns cut short and maintaining flower beds.’

Dr Goddard believes that small changes in the way people manage their gardens would have a huge impact on bee numbers. Some of these changes are to plant the right type of plants and flowers that are rich in pollen.

The University of Sussex have been investigating into what type of flowers would be more attractive to bees. These include lilac sage, lanender and borage. However, the research also revealed the worst type of plants to attract bees are dahlias and geraniums, some of the most popular bedding plants in the UK.

Dr Goddard commented on the findings, ‘Research on other types of wildlife tends to show that you get greater plant and bird diversity in wealthy areas, but we found that high social economic status can have a negative impact on bees.’ This is due to richer areas containing more trees for birds.’

What are your thoughts on the latest findings? Will you change the flowers you plant and allow a few Dandelions to grow in your garden to help the bee population?

Amanda McGovern, Pali Ltd

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(1) Comments gardens, poor areas, rich areas, environment

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