Plant winter flowers to help bees survive till spring Government urges

first_img Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. While most wild bees exist in a state of near hibernation throughout winter, greater availability of food improves their chances of surviving until the following spring.Lord Gardiner, Minister for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity, said: “Bees are a much-loved feature of the English summertime and crucial contributors to our biodiversity and our economy.“But it’s important not to forget bees’ needs during the winter months too, when providing food and a home are much more important than ever.“Planting evergreens for winter food and leaving areas of gardens undisturbed throughout the winter to provide homes mean we can all help pollinators emerge safely in the spring.” People should install evergreen plants in window boxes and allow sections of their gardens to grow wild to help bees survive the winter, the Government has urged.Experts are calling for a nationwide effort to protect the threatened species during the cold months, including boosting food supplies by planting winter-thriving shrubs and ivy, as well as early flowering bulbs like crocus and snowdrop.Garden owners are also encouraged to leave suitable places for hibernation undisturbed, by letting areas of lawn grow long, in particular north-facing banks, where bees like to burrow.Bee numbers have declined sharply in recent decades, mainly due to a 97 per cent reduction in flower-rich grasslands since the 1930s and use of agricultural pesticides.center_img Tim Lovett, from the British Beekeepers Association, said increasing the availability of winter plants would only work as long as bees felt inclined to leave their nests to find them.“The main mitigating factor is the weather,” he said.“Until the last few days it’s been quite mild.“Bees don’t just put on a scarf and head down to the shops.“If it’s cold they won’t go out.”Yesterday the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs lauded projects to bolster bee numbers, including one in Sydenham, South London, which has used “green manure” to encourage growth of winter plants.last_img read more