I was listening to a wonderful book on Radio 4 last week, 'A Sting in the Tale' by Dave Goulson was read all week by Tim McInnerny. A lifelong passion for bees and a wonderful scientific study about their behaviour. As my blog is very nearly 7 years old in a week or so, I thought a change of heart is necessary. Regular readers will know that "Matron does not do flowers! - you can't eat flowers!"
Well, it is high time that in the interest of our planet, I do something extra to help the bees. Apparently the pollen of legumes (peas and beans) contains 8 times more protein than other flowers. Bees can discriminate at sight or smell whether a flower has been pollinated recently by another bee, then choose another flower. Bees are highly discriminating in their choice of flowers, in fact the flowers of herbs and vegetables are preferable to common garden flowers.
Most bedding plants (petunias, lobelia, geranium) are of little interest to bees, but herbs such as rosemary, borage, sage and lavender are favourites.
So this year in the allotment I am going to leave a few of my vegetables to set flowers and encourage bees. I am going to plant a few sweet peas in amongst my climbing beans. I am going to leave some of my overwintered leeks to go to flower. Just for the bees. I hope you will consider doing something like this on your patch.