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Insects have fought to survive the summer with record-breaking temperatures and a lack of rainfall. Richard Bond, of the British Beekeepers Association, said: “The drought has severely affected pollinators of all types. Plants need to have sufficient water to produce the nectar to attract pollinators and recently, in parts of the UK, there has not been enough moisture in the ground for the plants. Pollinators are therefore not able to collect their food and use it to produce their offspring.”
All of South West England is in drought after some of the driest conditions in nearly 90 years. Eleven of the 14 Environment Agency areas in England are in drought status, with at least 45 million people affected.
Gardeners at Blenheim Palace, in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, have created a buzz by planting colourful, native wildflowers to help bees.
The estate has partnered with Rowse Honey to turn parts of the 400-acre ground into a pollinator paradise with purple cornflowers, yellow cowslip and wild strawberries. Over five years, gardeners will grow more than 50 acres of meadows and 124 miles of hedgerow in a bid to provide a sustainable nectar source and new habitats for wild bees and other wildlife.
Filipe Salbany, a conservationist who discovered thousands of rare wild honeybees on the Blenheim Estate last year, said: “The wildflower meadows and hedgerows we’re planting will create habitats for our wildlife, providing them with shelter and nectar sources throughout the year.
“We’ve chosen to plant a selection of wildflowers that have been native to Britain for centuries, with the longest possible flowering season in mind.”
The Daily Express Green Britain Needs You campaign is urging readers to have pollinator-friendly plants in their gardens. Several factors have led to the demise of bee populations, including land-use changes for agriculture or urbanisation.
Intensive farming methods have caused the loss of traditional hay and flower meadows, hedgerows, trees and other habitats such as ponds and water meadows. Scientists found that changes in climate may be disrupting bee nesting behaviour and their emergence after winter.
Zoologist Dr Lynn Dicks, of Cambridge University, said: “Insects are sensitive to weather conditions. So would you be if you were only 1cm long or less. Bees can easily overheat, especially bumblebees.
“Research on the impacts of heatwaves and drought on insects is way behind the pace of global climate change.
“We know almost nothing about how nectar resources might change across the important forage plant species.”
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