The month of June is highly anticipated by our culture enthusiasts. Often synonymous with sunshine, heat and harvest, it is an important period. It is also the return of the pollinating insects! Their importance is significant for the development of your crops and the biodiversity of your garden. For several years, the declining population of bees and other pollinators has been a concern. Between urbanisation and intensive exploitation, the home of our flying friends is being put to the test.
In the past few years, beekeepers have seen many losses in their colonies, especially in Western Europe. We estimate that 10-15% of bees and butterflies are threatened. Their rescue is a necessity.
1. A much-needed rescue: what is at risk?
First of all, 2 essential informations:
- 80% of the world’s flowering plants rely on pollinators for their survival or evolution.
- 84% of Europe’s crop production depends on insect pollination.
One third of the global food supply comes from crops pollinated by insects. NIAR conducted an international study in 12 countries. Results showed that the yield of cultivated plots could increase by 20% if the development of pollinators was stimulated. In addition, some species help to protect crops by acting as natural predators of parasites. It is therefore essential to conserve this biodiversity and preserve our pollinators in order to maintain a balance in nature.
Urbanisation is one of the major causes of the decline of pollinators. Indeed, man-made infrastructures lead to a rarefaction of wild spaces where flowers grow in abundance. Monoculture and the use of chemicals are also aggravating factors. They restrict the development of new plant species and thus keep insects away from their food supplies.
2. Who are the pollinators?
The most famous is undeniably the bee. But there are also wasps, flies and butterflies.
Pollinating insects can be classified into 4 groups:
Coleoptera: similar to the beetle, they are the most abundant in France. They have been gradually replaced by more efficient pollinators, but they fulfill their role perfectly in arid and semi-arid regions.
Lepidoptera: we are talking about the butterfly family. Their body is mostly composed of scales and allows the pollen to remain attached. By moving, the butterfly will make the pollen fall on the stigma, thus generating the fertilization.
Hymenoptera: this is the most famous group since it consists of bees, flies, bumblebees and wasps. Their hairy body allows to fix the pollen. When moving, it will sow itself in the stigmas nearby.
Diptera: they have a morphology very similar to Hymenoptera, except that they are much smaller. Their role is to promote the pollination of small species of flowers.
3. How to attract pollinators?
Pollinators feed mainly on nectar and pollen. Each flower has its own properties. All flowers are not producing the same amount of nutrients, so some should be favoured.
Concentrate on melliferous plants (lavender, geranium, dandelion, daisy, etc.) as they are very nutritive. You can also plant aromatic herbs such as mint, sage or thyme. Those herbs will provide a good smell while keeping harmful insects at bay.
Insect hotels: ready-made or do-it-yourself. This is a good way to encourage biodiversity. Set it up near an uncultivated plot of land facing south.
In the context of an increasingly complex ecological situation, it is essential to adopt more respectful and sustainable production and consumption practices. Our innovative greenhouse solutions allow everyone to reconnect with their food. Designed to grow fruits and vegetables in limited spaces, they combine the best growing techniques with a reduced carbon footprint.
NIAR : National Institute for Agricultural Research