We know the importance of pollination; 75% of global crops and one out of every three mouthfuls of our food depends on it. But 250 of our insect pollinators are in danger of extinction so we need to make changes so we can protect them. Bees, butterflies, moths, birds, flies and beetles play a pivotal role in contributing to the pollination of 8 in 10 British plants. And there are simple things we can do at home to help pollinators. Here are five tips for you to try at home!
- Let your grass grow
Ok, this is a favourite in our household. Everyone loves a freshly cut and neatly manicured lawn but by growing a small part of it and letting it run wild you’re encouraging the natural ecosystem to thrive. You’ll soon see more insects, flowers and maybe even small mammals! All it takes is a small patch that you leave untended and allowed to grow wild.
- Plant seeds
This one seems obvious but for some people, it’s not easy. You may live in a flat, have no garden or are short on space. That’s ok because it just takes small changes to make a difference and help pollinators. You could use window boxes, hanging baskets or even small pots outdoors. Get creative with your space. Seeds don’t have to be pricey, you can pick up mixed packets for less than a coffee. Remember bright colours will attract more pollinators and will brighten up your day – bonus!
- Avoid pesticides
A BIG NO! Pesticides have a devastating effect on wild pollinators and the crops they’re pollinating. It doesn’t matter if they’re sprayed at a certain time of day, the effects are long-lasting and can be acutely toxic. While pesticides can feel necessary in some circumstances with weeds and problem plants, there is always an organic remedy that can be tried. You can check out pan-uk.org for sustainable alternatives to hazardous pesticides.
- Get native
Get planting things indigenous not only to your country but to your local area. Natural plants will promote your local ecosystem and will appeal most to those local pollinators. Primrose, dianthus and foxgloves all flourish in British soil and weather and are therefore ideal to help pollinators like bees and bugs. You could swap seeds, bulbs or plants with neighbours or neighbouring streets, or attend your local village fete where people sell plants from their garden at thrifty prices! Local plants can also be beneficial to your health. Did you know that honey from your area will help protect against hay fever because the bees have pollinated those plants?
- Make an effort all year round
Plants may come full bloom during spring and summer, but pollination can really take place all year round; different insects will be more active at different seasons. It can even happen at night with the moths doing the night shift. Crocuses and snowdrops are synonymous with winter but are also loved by winter pollinating insects and winter honeysuckle and clematis are nectar-rich. Plant your spring bulbs in the autumn, they’re hardy and you can rest assured there will be a source of pollen when little else is in flower.
These small tips can make a huge difference to pollinators and how they’re helping the food supply. Try some of them and see how the insects in your garden increase. Share some photos with us, we’d love to see them!