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Bee Friendly: Food

Why is this important?

Pollinators gets their food from pollen and nectar which they gather from flowering plants, tall grasses, hedgerows and scrub species. During their larval stages, some pollinators need different plant species for their food compared to once they have matured. In order to help these pollinators we need to provide them with plants to gather their nectar and pollen from starting in early spring, right through to late autumn.

Sadly, roughly 80% of UK wildflowers are pollinated by insect pollinators, sadly though, 97% of traditional lowland grassland meadows in England and Wales were lost between1930-84. This has resulted in a massive loss of food for our pollinators, and something which Denbighshire County Council have actively been attempting to rectify by promoting the growth of wildflowers along our road verges and by reducing our use of harmful herbicides and pesticides.

What have Denbighshire County Council been doing?

The council have been identifying sites to improve for pollinators by planting wildflowers and sowing wildflower seeds. We use wildflower species which are known to be native to the area, or in some instances (such as more urban settings) we will use non-native species, but only those with a known benefit to wildlife.

The Council have also identified sites which are already good for pollinators and we have set about ensuring they are managed appropriately to continue providing a reliable and safe food source for our pollinators. We are also managing our “Bee Friendly Denbighshire” sites more sympathetically, with reduced cutting regimes to favour our wildflowers and pollinators. Currently we are working towards creating "Bee Friendly Denbighshire" signage to explain which areas are included in the scheme, and why they have been chosen.

So how can you help?

By growing native pollinator friendly plants you will be providing a food source for foraging insects such as adult butterflies, moths, hoverflies, bumblebees and solitary bees (the most common pollinators in Wales). Some plants are also great for providing a food source during the pollinator’s early life stage, particularly butterflies and some moths.

For pollinator friendly plants have a look at the plant list available on the Wales Biodiversity Network page: https://www.biodiversitywales.org.uk/Wales-Action-Plan-for-Pollinators See if we can get a pdf download link

For some helpful advice on how to go about growing your own pollinator friendly garden, have a look at this great Buglife guide https://www.buglife.org.uk/sites/default/files/Make%20a%20bug%20friendly%20garden%20-%20simple.pdf See if we can get a pdf download link

Some extra ideas

Some ideas from the Welsh Government’s Bee Friendly Action Guide See if we can get a pdf download link

  • Plant native species which supply suitable food for caterpillars (which will also be good for butterflies and moths)
  • Create wildflower meadows, or plant cultivated flowers, shrubs or trees that provide pollen and nectar for bees and other pollinators
  • Cut grass less often – In general 2-3 cuts a year, one early; one late. Leave some grass longer; cutting only once a year. Remove grass cuttings to prevent smothering of delicate herbs by cut grass. Allow flowering herbs to flower and set seed
  • Work with local householders to encourage them to grow pollinator friendly flowers and plants – aim to have plenty of nectar-bearing flowers out in as many months as possible, including early spring and late summer and autumn
  • Encourage use of open-shaped flowers where insects can reach the nectar and pollen
  • Plant more old-fashioned varieties of plant which tend to have more nectar than more modern forms and hybrids, and choose varieties with single flowers (see our plant list below for some great examples!)
  • Remember that butterflies and moths have different needs to bees in terms of their larval food plants
  • Plant night-scented plants which are good for moths
  • Leave wild areas to allow larval food plants such as nettles to grow.

*Remember to always ask the landowner before you start planting or making any changes and don’t forget to keep safe at all times!*

Here’s what Denbighshire County Council are setting out to achieve

We will:

  • Report on the number of sites we introduce to the “Bee Friendly Denbighshire” project each year.
  • Use before and after photographs of each “Bee Friendly Denbighshire” site, to show that the work has been undertaken and also show annual changes to the sites.
  • Create individual management plans for each “Bee Friendly Denbighshire” site, which will include a brief proforma for them to record any work they have undertaken on the site each year.
  • The results of the proformas will be reported each year.

 

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