Pollinators Are In Serious Decline

Pollinators Are In Serious Decline

Everyone knows that pollinators, i.e. insects that pollinate our flowers and crops, are in serious decline and we are being encouraged to do everything possible to help them, not least by planting flowers, shrubs and trees that can supply accessible pollen. Typical of the advice that you will find in magazines and the media is that good plants for pollinators are:






… and if you planted these you would certainly be helping wildlife. However it is worth looking beneath the surface as no two lists agree and there is seldom any indication of what research has been done to reach these conclusions.

We have three main types of bee in this country. First Honeybees, possibly not native but producing honey and living in colonies. Next Bumblebees with which we are all familiar as they are usually large, furry and highly visible. Then there are the Solitary bees of which there are 225 species in Britain. As the name suggests these do not live in hives but individually and you will often see them using our bee hotels. Which raises the next question – do all these types of bees use our recommended plants in equal measure?


A five-year research programme by Rosi Rollings has found marked differences in bee preferences. Amongst the garden flowers most visited by Honeybees are Veronicastrum virginicum (Culvers Root) and Sedum spectabile (Ice plant) yet these are largely avoided


by Solitary bees. However the latter love Anthemis tinctoria (Golden Marguerite) which is studiously ignored by Honeybees and Bumblebees and also Campanula (Harebell) which is seldom visited by them. Bumblebees will go for Echium vulgare (Vipers Bugloss) but Solitary bees will not go out of their way for them.

So if you want to favour one category over another you can find more detail on what plants to go for in Rosi’s website -www.rosybee.com. Or you can simply take the top five irrespective of bee type which are:

Geranium Rozanne


Helenium autumnale

Eryngium planum

Helenium – Sahins Early Flowerer

Remember to factor in the seasons ideally providing a range of plants that will offer pollen from Spring through to Autumn and finally note that the bees are not remotely interested in whether the plants are native species or not.