"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion" Francis Bacon 1561-1626

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Biodiversity and More Bee Flower Notes: Flowers 10 to 20

It’s the last day of January and next week I have to seriously start my work for the “20 British Bees”. For this next project I will be making some simple paintings of plants/flowers too and writing about them as I go. They really do go hand in hand. The pencil and colour drawing of lovely “Lili” was a try-out for the bee series, as I will aim for a bit more of a sense of place to these next paintings.

Five a Day for Bees.

So here are some more flowers which bees like. I am learning that some they use for nectar and some for pollen and how important it is to keep a supply of bee friendly flowers as mixed as possible and spread throughout the seasons. Earlier this month there were some interesting findings from French researchers showing that, just like us needing our 5 fruit and veg, bees are healthier if they have a mixed diet of five different pollens. For a bee, foraging on just one crop is rather like us being fed exclusively on big Macs devoid even of the token bits of green stuff.  It’s a very interesting read..here from the BBC.

David Aston, who chairs the British Beekeepers' Association technical committee says this:

"If you think about the amount of habitat destruction, the loss of biodiversity, that sort of thing, and the expansion of crops like oilseed rape, you've now got large areas of monoculture; and that's been a fairly major change in what pollinating insects can forage for.

As a consequence,  bees often do better in urban areas than in the countryside, because city parks and gardens contain a higher diversity of plant life. “

Go.. City Gardeners.. go!!.. my balcony is important. Elaine Hughes, expert gardener for the London Wildlife Trust says this!

“Would-be urban gardeners without a front or back lawn need not despair. Gardening in areas as small as windowsills or balconies is essential in that it creates sheltering areas and provides stop off points for insects and birds as they weave their way through neighbourhoods.”

from the Ecologist, on creating a Wildlife Garden here

I have a feeling that bees are something of a “fashionable” cause at the moment. I just hope the eco luvvies will not move onto something else too soon, because I don’t think reversing the decline in bee species will be a quick fix. Someone said to me the other day. “Oh.. I thought bees were ok now”. I don’t think they are quite yet.

Ten more Flowers

I did not sketch these flowers in any particular order or category,  just as I read about them. I should have been a bit more organised, but it will be nice to fill up the sketchbook, only ten more pages to go.  For flowers 1 to 10 see here.

Clarkia/Godetia                                       Borage Borago officinalis

godetiasm

Harebells Campanula rotundifolia              Purple Cone Flower Echinacea purpurea

Cotoneaster                                            Hawthorn, Crataegus oxyacantha

Kidney Vetch Anthyllis vulneraria              Sea Holly Eringium maritimum

Wallflower Cheiranthus /Erysimum              Cranesbill Geranium

geraniumsm

 

Also, I have just received a wonderful pack of seeds from Hometown Seeds, with enough vegetables for more than half an acre and planting guides etc.   I am looking at the 6ft by 3 ft balcony and wondering where to start :).

4 comments:

Meredith said...

Oh, I love your sketches. And yes, I'm sure every balcony counts -- for bees, and for beauty. :)

Good luck with your vegetable garden! Although not planted as flowers per se, I've found common basil and mint to be very effective bee lures in my vegetable plots, too.

jodi (bloomingwriter) said...

I know I've said this before, but every time I find a post about bees, I cheer. And your posts are always so delightfully illustrated to complement your writings. Thank you for continuing to spread the word about the needs of pollinators.

Kerri said...

Your coloured sketches are beautiful!
Bees are such fascinating creatures. Interesting to read about their need for diversity in pollens. I think they should do well in our garden and surroundings.
We have a nest in the back wall of our barn which we hope to have relocated in the spring by a bee keeper. They made painting the barn a little precarious last summer, but amazingly there were no bee stings! We left that section of the wall unpainted :) But the wasps were the ones that stung. They can be vicious!

sharp green pencil said...

Thanks to you all.

Meredith...Thank you! mint and basil and most of the herbs are great bee favourites it seems. I am not sure the "veg garden" will ever get off the ground as it were... but have some friends here who are willing to be surrogates:) But maybe tomatoes and peppers will do OK on the balcony.

Dear Jodi... thank you too.. .. I am really glad that you like the bee posts. Hope your enthusiasm doesn't wane because will not be much else on this blog except bees for the next three months!

Kerry... Hi and thank you. I have to admit that before all this bee research I was very ignorant about them and thought they could, and would, all sting. I was once told by an aged countryman that the only way to deal with wasps is tell them firmly to go away! I did manage to pick plums this last year, which were full of wasps, without harm after giving them a good talking to!