Britain’s beleaguered bees and other pollinating insects are set to benefit from a new RHS campaign. The charity is launching the ‘RHS Perfect for Pollinators’ list to help gardeners select plants that will play a role in addressing the decline of certain insects. The RHS will be working with the trade to provide point-of-sale material and make the logo available for the trade to use.
The ‘RHS Perfect for Pollinators’ label was developed when writer and broadcaster Sarah Raven approached the charity with the innovative idea of flagging up to gardeners plants most suitable for pollinators. The RHS had been working on a research project looking at plants for bugs and was excited by Sarah’s idea that a label might get the public and trade more involved.
“The days of punnets of strawberries costing £50 is fast upon us,” says Sarah . “Without insects busying themselves on our behalf pollinating fruit and vegetables, a healthy diet of ‘five a day’ will soon be gone.”
Over the last 50 years a decline in many groups of insects has been noticed. These include some of the common butterflies, moths, hoverflies and bees. The reason for this is complex but part of the problem may be the reduction in the abundance of wild flowers in the countryside. Gardens with their variety of flowers are increasingly being seen as an important habitat where insects can find sources of nectar and pollen.
The RHS advises that there are a number of things gardeners can do to help insects. They suggest;
• Avoid plants with double or multi-petal flowers
• Aim to have plants in flower from early spring to late autumn
• Think about using British wild flowers as additions to planting schemes
• Observe the plants in your garden and plant more of those that attract insects
Consult the RHS Perfect for Pollinator list
1. Britain has 25 species of bumblebees
2. A honeybee hive can contain up to about 60,000 bees in midsummer
3. A hive of bees can convert the nectar they collect into more than 100 pounds of honey
4. There are about 260 species of hoverflies, many of which produce aphid-eating larvae
5. Butterflies and moths with their long tongues (proboscises) can reach nectar that is inaccessible to short-tongued insects