Not all of us can keep bees, but “The Bee Friendly Garden” by Doug Purdie shows us how we can all help our most important pollinators to thrive.
Earlier this year a friend of mine wandered out into her large garden and was met by a horrifying sight. She keeps a couple of bee hives and, that day, every single bee from her hives was dead. After some sleuthing around she discovered that one of the neighbours (not an immediate neighbour, but close by) had sprayed their lawn to get rid of lawn beetles, unaware that the freely-available and most recommended treatment for this pest was also deadly to all bees within a significant radius.
We all know how absolutely vital to food production bees are and Doug Purdie’s previous book, Backyard Bees shows us how to care for them. With his new book, The Bee Friendly Garden, he want us to transform our backyards & balconies into insect nirvanas and build a “bee highway” across the country.
Bees thrive in urban environments, where it is a short trip from one plant to the next. Not all of us are in a position to keep bees, but anyone who has a garden or balcony can help to optimise foraging conditions for bees by nurturing the plants that make them happy and avoiding the things that will kill them.
The Bee Friendly Garden explains the perils of insecticides and then suggests alternatives. Importantly, the use of surface sprays and backyard automatic insecticide sprayers is questioned – do we really need to nuke every insect near and far to have a happy life?
Purdie supplies lists of native plants, flowering plants, exotics and edible plants and trees that will provide a gourmet buffet for the hungry bee. He also devotes a chapter to how to provide homes for our sometimes overlooked native bee, of which Australia has more than 2,000 species.
Not just a book for bee-keepers, this volume is one for anyone who cares about food security. Bees are our most important pollinators, but my friend’s ghastly experience shows just how vulnerable they are. It’s time we all started to “think like a bee” – for our sake as much as theirs.