What have Bees ever done for us?
Stung us, buzzed about, but then there was the wax, and honey. Not to mention the fact that they are responsible for pollinating approximately a third of all our food crops.
Though amidst the hype around bees, it’s easy to forget that there are heaps of other incredible beneficial insects around. Lacewings, praying mantis, ladybirds, and even certain species of wasps will feed on pest species, while many butterflies, hoverflies and solitary bees, and even some beetles will help pollinate your plants.
Yet sadly, many beneficial insect species, including bees, are struggling to a range of factors: including habitat loss and the less than judicious use of pesticides. But thankfully we can help.
Growing for Beneficial Insects
By creating a vibrant and healthy eco-system within our backyard we make things easier for ourselves and we help the environment. A healthy numbers of predator insects makes it less likely that the numbers of pest species will suddenly grow, and if they do it’s less of a problem. Decent numbers of pollinator insects ensure that fruiting and flowering plants are happy, and will often cause an increase in yields.
So to help the environment and ourselves it’s important to:
Take care when spraying pesticides
Spray only when necessary
Where possible avoid spraying flowers
Spray in the evening when beneficial insects are less active
Where possible avoid using systemic pesticides (pesticides that remain active for long periods of time)
When used carefully pesticides such as Success Ultra, Maverik, 3 in 1 Combat Rose , or natural options like Neem, Pyrethrum, and Bugtrol won’t have much impact on beneficial insects after the day they were initially sprayed
Planting to attract and feed beneficial insects
For best results plant a wide array of different plants with different flowering times. Cottage Garden style beds are often great, and they look fantastic.
Plants great for attracting beneficial insects include:
Brassica Flowers (the flowers of cabbage, kale, etc.)
Fruit trees such as apples, cherries, peaches, plums, and citrus trees. Crab apples are particularly good as their flowers last for quite a long time.
Parsnip (If you let some flower)
Soft fruit such as: Blackberries, Raspberries, Boysenberries Blueberries, and Strawberries
Queen Anne’s Lace
Nepeta spp. (Catmint, Catnip, Six Hills Giant, etc)
Roses (provided the insects are able to access the stamens)