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

Our wildflower area: unimpressive results for bees

We have given over areas of the rosybee site to trials of various seed mixes that are promoted to help bees and of these areas is a for a fairly standard 'wildflower mix'. It is 70% grass and 30% native wildflowers - mainly perennials.

This will be the third year and as you can just about see from this picture we quite a few red campions and dead-nettles. I have also spotted one cowslip and a few buttercups. There is also a lot of dock and nettle that was the dominant greenery prior to clearing and sowing.  Last year produced a proliferation of oxeye daisy and although its a bit early for that I can see the shoots returning strongly. So good: some progress and definitely some pretty flowers throughout the area.

But when I tell you that a, this mix contained 18 types of flower seed yet I have only seen 7 flower and b, until this week, in 400 square meters of area I had not seen a single bee in 2 years, you might understand why I am underwhelmed at the results of £100 of seed. The problem is the very low ratio of flower to grass; there are simply better sources for the bees so they ignore it.

But back to the small successes; I saw a common carder bee on the deadnettles - hurrah!

This area will need to make a miraculous improvement in its bee-value by mid summer or I really cannot justify the space when other planting schemes will be so much more beneficial.

Update on our wildflower seed trial

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I was very disparaging about trying to get a nice looking meadow effect from seeds last year and, our initial experience was all about weeds. Now we are in June and the area we planted (about 500 square meters) actually now looks stunning although not rich in variety or bees. We still have lots of dock, thistles and creeping buttercup which were such features of its original really wild look but the oxeye daisy is in full bloom and visually dominant.  We did have some pink campion but that is now finished and if I look amongst the daisy and grass I can see a few other things coming through but not much.

However, its objective is to support pollinating insects and on that score the oxeye daisy is clearly a hit with a wide variety of hover flies but with only an occasional solitary bee.  I did manage to catch this shot of a leafcutter bee on one.