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
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
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 :).