Category Archives: Plants

National Botanic Garden of Wales research has revealed which plants bees choose for their pollen.

Scientists investigated the species honey bees liked most during spring as part of efforts to protect the bees’ environment and better understand their habits.

Peonies, wallflowers, roses, and hyacinth are among the top 10 favourite garden plants.

Favoured wild plants include gorse, willow, hawthorn, oak and dandelion.

Research head Dr Natasha de Vere said bees face a lack of habitat brought about by the loss of hedgerows, woodland and meadows rich in plant species.

Without a healthy and diverse diet, they are unable to withstand pressures from pests, disease and insecticides.

“The main conclusion is that, during the spring, honey bees need native hedgerow and woodland plants, which means we must conserve these habitats,” Dr de Vere added.

“The research also tells us that honey bees are supplementing this main diet with smaller amounts from parks and gardens – proving what we do in our own backyard is crucial.”

The project – part of the Carmarthenshire garden’s Saving Pollinators scheme – identified plant DNA in honey collected from its eight hives and quarter of a million bees.

Of the 437 different types of plants in flower in April and May in the botanic garden, only 11% were used by bees.Honey bees need access to a wide variety of food throughout spring as they replenish honey stores and feed their young.

The research, carried out by Aberystwyth and Bangor university scientists, found their diet is supplemented by spring-flowering bulbs.

Other favourites include apple and cherry trees, hellebores, oak, holly, and wallflowers.

Researchers now plan to analyse honey from across Wales to understand what bees eat in other parts of the country.


No neonicotinoids on 9/10 garden centre plants

Nine of the top 10 leading garden retailers and garden centres don’t want the flowering plants they sell to be grown with bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticides and have told suppliers not to use them, a Friends of the Earth survey  reveals.

However, one of the biggest garden retailers – Homebase – has yet to commit to working with suppliers to end the use of restricted neonicotinoids, despite being contacted by thousands of people via a Friends of the Earth online action ….

Plants on sale to the public are a significant source of pesticides

Ornamental plants on sale to the public are a significant source of pesticide residues with implications for the health of pollinating insects
Lentola, A, David, A, Abdul-Sada, A, Tapparo, A, Goulson, D and Hill, E M (2017) Ornamental plants on sale to the public are a significant source of pesticide residues with implications for the health of pollinating insects. Environmental Pollution, 228. pp. 297-304. ISSN 0269-7491

Garden centres frequently market nectar- and pollen-rich ornamental plants as “pollinator-friendly”, however these plants are often treated with pesticides during their production. There is little information on the nature of pesticide residues present at the point of purchase and whether these plants may actually pose a threat to, rather than benefit, the health of pollinating insects.

Using mass spectrometry analyses, this study screened leaves from 29 different ‘bee-friendly’ plants for 8 insecticides and 16 fungicides commonly used in ornamental production. Only two plants (a Narcissus and a Salvia variety) did not contain any pesticide and 23 plants contained more than one pesticide, with some species containing mixtures of 7 (Ageratum houstonianum) and 10 (Erica carnea) different agrochemicals. Neonicotinoid insecticides were detected in more than 70% of the analysed plants, and chlorpyrifos and pyrethroid insecticides were found in 10% and 7% of plants respectively. Boscalid, spiroxamine and DMI-fungicides were detected in 40% of plants.

Pollen samples collected from 18 different plants contained a total of 13 different pesticides. Systemic compounds were detected in pollen samples at similar concentrations to those in leaves. However, some contact (chlorpyrifos) and localised penetrant pesticides (iprodione, pyroclastrobin and prochloraz) were also detected in pollen, likely arising from direct contamination during spraying. The neonicotinoids thiamethoxam, clothianidin and imidacloprid and the organophosphate chlorpyrifos were present in pollen at concentrations between 6.9 and 81 ng/g and at levels that overlap with those known to cause harm to bees.

The net effect on pollinators of buying plants that are a rich source of forage for them but simultaneously risk exposing them to a cocktail of pesticides is not clear. Gardeners who wish to gain the benefits without the risks should seek uncontaminated plants by growing their own from seed, plant-swapping or by buying plants from an organic nursery.


Plant a pot for pollinators

Join the Butterfly Conservation’s Plant a Pot for Pollinators project:-,0,0,0,0


Abergavenny Chronicle Press Release – “Don’t mow wildflowers”

Abergavenny Chronicle – Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Bee Friendly signs call on contractors to avoid cutting wildflower verges

“Members of Bee Friendly Monmouthshire have been out and about around Abergavenny planting signs on grass verges to discourage private contractors and council workmen from strimming wildflowers.

The signs bear the Bee Friendly symbol with the message below: ‘Do not mow while flowering’.  The same signage will also be installed by Monmouthshire County Council when the urban flowers mix is sown on roundabouts.

Chairwoman of Bee Friendly Monmouthshire Cyrene Powell says the group was ‘very disheartened’ to read the recent story in the Chronicle about the destruction of a bank of wildflowers in Wern Gifford, Pandy by a county council team subcontracted to SWTRA.”


Letter and reply sent to the RHS magazine “The Garden” June 2017

Dear Sir
It was with considerable dismay that I read a section on Leafcutter bees contained in your article on page 41 of the Royal Horticultural Society magazine “The Garden”  June 2017 entitled “Which pest is on my roses?”

Under no circumstances should leafcutter bees be classified as “pests” in a garden and should not be listed alongside aphids, sawflies and scurfy rose scale!  Admittedly, within the paragraph about the bees, you stressed that they are important pollinating insects and “should be encouraged (Yes. Hoooray!) or at least tolerated (No. Totally negative!)” But I’m afraid the damage is done by even including the activities of the leafcutters under the general heading of “pests”.

My dismay was slightly tempered when I reached page 122 and read a positive description of the work of the leafcutters in Jean Vernon’s Wildlife column.

Perhaps you have never observed, with complete admiration, as I have a female leafcutter bee hard at work flying backwards and forwards to her nest ( in a bamboo tube in a bee hotel for example) carrying rolled up pieces of rose leaf to perfectly line the bamboo tube in which she lays her eggs. And finally cutting a circle of almost perfect diameter to plug the entrance hole at the front. Watch her flying head first into the tube with pollen to supply each cell and then reversing in to lay her egg before flying off for more supplies of rose leaves and pollen for the next cell.  It is absolutely fascinating to watch.

These tiny insects are one of the wonders of nature and deserve our total respect.  They have been on this earth for millions of years.  Count yourself lucky if you find holes in your rose leaves.  It means you have a healthy, thriving family of leafcutter bees somewhere nearby, indicating that your garden is well on its way to being wildlife friendly.


Secretary, Bee Friendly Monmouthshire

Reply from “The Garden” magazine:

Thank you for your concern about including the leaf-cutter bee in the June edition of The Garden under rose pests. The primary reason for including the insect in this article was because the RHS Garden Advice service regularly receives enquiries about the characteristic leaf holes caused by these useful insects (in roses and other plants). Whilst these insects should not be considered pests it is the enquirer who asks ‘what pest has caused the damage?’. Therefore it was important to include this insect under the pests section in order to inform gardeners what causes the leaf holes and that it is a useful pollinator that should be tolerated, some gardeners still consider the damage unsightly even with this information. If it had not been included in this item many gardeners may still have considered the damage to be due to a pest and swatted the bee, occasionally we receive the squashed bees in the post.

You may be interested to read our advisory profile on leaf cutter-bees

You may also be interested in this year’s RHS/Wildlife trusts Wild about Gardens campaign which is focused on wild bees, of which the leafcutters are a featured species


A colourful carpet of wildflowers flayed by strimmers !

Where have all the flowers gone? Monmouthshire County Council and trunk road agency argue it out over who cut down roadside flowers.

Abergavenny Chronicle report:-

Regarding the wildflower cuts in Wern Gifford, Pandy last week, Bee Friendly Monmouthshire would like to express how disheartened they are. Wildflowers don’t just appear overnight and cutting them before they seed delays their growth by a few years.
As such, some beautiful wildflowers have naturally self seeded and sprung up in the verges near the new roundabouts at Llanfoist. We have put very important signs there as reminders to the contractors/council to please not cut them whilst they are flowering. We also ask the public to not take the signs – we are kindly funded by the public and not the council!

Management plan and planting list for a local school

During 2015 the Dell School Parent Teachers Association worked with volunteers to improve some areas of the school grounds. It was agreed that the flower bed outside the front of the school was a priority as it occupies a prominent position and it had been neglected for some years. A local resident and member of Transition Chepstow/Bee Friendly Monmouthshire/the Wildlife Gardening Forum was invited to work with the PTA to develop an appropriate management plan for the flower bed and in October 2015 volunteers from the PTA cleared and replanted it.

Download the management plan:  Dell School – Plant List Flower Bed