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

Nectar rich mix trials; the 'french' mix

On holiday in France last summer we found noticed that as you drive through the countryside, you quite often find sections of field margins or areas at the edge of villages where there is suddenly a blaze of colour.  This is because the French government have been very active in encouraging seed mixes in spare land to provide environmental benefit.  (the French government is also one of those in Europe that have banned certain pesticides after working out they are harmful to the bees as well and the unwanted insects) We tracked the seed mixes down in a standard garden centre where we found a variety of mixes: some just for colour, others for birds, butterflies or pollinating insects.  We bought a big bag of the bee-friendly one and this became one of the mixes we are now trialling at rosybee.

I am writing this in July, having sown the mix this April, and can report:

1. it has grown well just scattered on the surface of the soil

2. it grew better on slightly raised areas of soil and I suspect that the very wet April may have inhibited (rotting) the gemination of the seeds that had landed in the furrows.

3. it contains (in order of flowering from June onwards) phacelia, poppy, cornflowers, echium, wild carrot, camomile, corn cockle and calendula.

4. bee numbers in June- July range from 3 to 5 per square meter in warm, dry weather conditions during day-time, which makes this a highly successful mix for bees.

5. the bees almost ignore the cornflowers and are mainly attracted to the phacelia and echium (not a big finding there!)

6. it is pretty!!! (I know, not a very scientific comment but I am sure most people we appreciate the benefit)

I will continue to monitor as the phacelia is now almost over and it will be interesting the track the bee-count.