We come from the Earth, we return to the Earth, and in-between we garden.
France has gone even further than the European Union in banning the pesticides responsible for the decline of our bees and set the bar even higher in the effort to save them. The importance of pollinators to nature and the survival of the biosphere, this news couldn’t have come sooner.
Various studies reported that the ‘neonicotinoid pesticides’ attack the central nervous system of insects, leading to the loss of their memory and homing skills, and it also reduces their fertility. Bees that cannot find their way back to their hive will quickly die. Incredibly these pesticides have also been shown to affect butterflies, birds and other pollinating insects.
By enforcing the blanket ban, France is going further than the European Union, which voted to outlaw the use of three neonicotinoids - clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam - in crop fields.
France has banned these three, along with thiacloprid and acetamiprid, not only outdoors but in greenhouses too. Initially opposed, Britain now backs the less comprehensive EU ban due to evidence supporting reports that the chemicals contributed to “colony collapse disorder.”
There is a good reason why France is ahead of their game in this regard: These are the pesticides which were tested for the first time on French fields back in the 1990’s. French farmers saw first-hand the disastrous effects that occurred in 1994; they each described “a carpet of dead bees”. 400,000 bee colonies had died within days and the story was hidden.
Here are some ways you can help!
Grow a range of single, open flowers from March to November. Include crocus, red and white clover, borage, viper’s bugloss and Verbena bonariensis.
Let dandelions live! This ‘weed’ is one of the best flowers for bees, many of which rely on it. Cut the heads off before they seed if you insist, but please let them bloom.
When growing roses, choose those with non-glossy leaves, so leafcutter bees might use them to line the individual nest cells they make for their babies.
Grow some climbing plants. Bare fences and walls are pretty useless to bees. Climbing plants provide flowers to feed from, shelter from rain, leaf litter which they can nest and hibernate beneath.
In dry weather, leave a dish of mud for mason bees to line their nest cells with.
Grow spring-flowering trees, which provide masses of pollen and nectar in a small space. Fruit trees such as apple, plum and cherry are ideal.
Stop using pesticides and weedkillers. Completely. There are enough poisons used on agricultural crops without bees having to face them in our gardens as well. Let your garden be a haven from harmful chemicals.
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