Follow our progress running the nursery, watching wild bees, keeping honey bees and creating our own bee-haven in south Oxfordshire

Weeds for bees...?

Small solitary bee - probably a lasioglossum - on bristly ox-tongue

Small solitary bee - probably a lasioglossum - on bristly ox-tongue

The rosybee nursery and research centre is sited in 6 areas of agricultural land which has ancient 'ridge and furrows' showing that it was once used for producing crops but for the last 50+ years has only been used for grazing and hay production.

Most of the soil is very poor clay which is so compacted that there is moss between the grass and very little valuable natural meadow species. However, whenever we disturb the soil we find a variety of thistles shoot up as if released from their clay prison. This is very annoying when your intention is to grow an lush area of borage of phacelia but they are not without their own value to pollinators.

Chief amongst our weeds are:

  • creeping buttercup....which is largely ignored by bees but of interest to hoverflies
  • bristly ox-tongue, which is appreciated by a wide variety of pollinators....and the sheep if they are allowed to graze it.

I recognise that most people don't have the benefit of so much space but we all have weeds and need to make the same decisions of what to do about them. It is possible that some of your weeds, if left to flower, might be more beneficial for insects that your carefully cultivated garden plants and, depending on the species, can be very attractive.  From the bees perspective, if you have a great range of nectar producing plants the form does not matter but the advise to not be too tidy - particularly as you clear the borders for winter - is probably worth considering.

At rosybee we will keep developing the site with the aim of having some natural areas and some more cultivated spots but we will tolerate the native species where they decide to put themselves.......we really have no other choice!

by rosi