Asby Gardening Club members welcomed six guests and the speaker of the evening, Julia Pigott, to the Village Hall on Wednesday evening. Julia’s presentation was entitled ‘Gardening for Bees’, a talk she gave at the RHS Show in Tatton Park last year. Julia and Martin Hoggard run a small ‘not for profit’ business ‘Bee Ed’ to umbrella beekeeping activities. The 17 acre bee sanctuary/nature reserve they manage is a flower rich meadow and pasture with appropriate woodland. “If the habitat is right, bees will arrive”.
Julia’s talk, illustrated with glorious photographs of flowers & numerous pollinators in very close detail, was fascinating & informative. She told us that there has been a big change in the countryside in recent years, there are not enough flowers left, and, in Cumbria, we have lots of sheep who also love to eat flowers! We gardeners have a big part to play in sustaining the bee population, we should think about growing pollen & nectar producing plants all year round, especially early, e.g. pussy willow & comfrey, and late flowering ones. We should be a little untidy in some areas of our garden, especially in sunny parts, to provide ideal habitats for bees.
Bees & flowers are inseparable. Flowers need pollinating and have developed ways of enticing bees to come to them e.g. colour & shape, whilst plants reward bees with ‘food’, the bees then transfer pollen between plants. Probably the most perfectly developed plant for bees is the purple foxglove. Bees do their waggle dance to tell other bees from their hive where the flowers are. Julia told us that if we could leave a little of our lawn to grow the weeds (buttercups, clover etc) this would help the bees immensely.
Many species of bee are now critically endangered for many reasons, but one rather scary reason is the ‘killer’ varieties from abroad. She mentioned especially the Asian hornet which eats our native pollinators; you can see a picture of one on The British Beekeepers website so if you see one you can report it. For further information Julia recommended books by David Goulson, in particular ‘The Sting in the Tail’ & ‘Bee Quest’. Groups are very welcome to the Nature Reserve in Brigsteer; perhaps an idea for a Gardening Club trip later in the year.
After the presentation we enjoyed a cuppa & biscuit whilst chatting to Julia & looking at the numerous ‘goodies’ she had brought along. A variety of free information leaflets, beeswax soap & candles to buy & even some mead to sample, to name a few.
The raffle to win a candle & soap was won by Andrew Hewitt.