Goulson criticises popular plants as being poor for bees

University of Sussex Professor Dave Goulson says hybrid tea roses, carnations and begonias are among flowers that are no good for bees.

He told Horticulture Week: "Most people are unaware that some plants are hopeless for insects, while others are great.  f we could persuade everyone to grow a few more of the types of plants that bees and butterflies like, we could turn urban areas into giant bee nature reserves, which would be fantastic."

Goulson said 'Some ornamental flowers are really rubbish for bees and other wildlife because they have been bred for these big blooms, extra petals and colours.

'Intensive selection has made these flowers useless to insects; they have lost their organic function which evolved to attract bees and they are a bit of a travesty as far as wildlife are concerned.'

He singled out tea roses, begonias, carnations and double pansies as bad for bees because of lack of nectar or hard to access nectar.

He added: "You can really notice it in the garden, that some plants like lavender and catmint are buzzing with bees and other insects.

'But if you make a different choice of plant, there will be silence and no insects attracted to it at all.

'It is similar to the way in which selective dog breeding has caused health problems for pets.

"People do not have to buy ugly flowers to attract bees, because there are lots of perfumed and beautiful varieties attractive to both humans and insects.'

Goulson's research led to a campaign urging growers to stop using chemicals on plants, with B&Q banning nurseries using neonictinoids from 2018.

In July, Friends of the Earth found that 10 garden retail groups had pledged to make moves to stop selling plants with traces of banned neonicotinoids in them.

Goulson added: "If I had the money I’d love to test their plants in a year or two to see."


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