A bee-friendly garden. Part 3: Soggy spring could hit more than my cider making

Neil Kingsnorth

21 May 2012

The couple who lived in my house before us were fruit fans. They crammed 3 apple trees and 2 pear trees in to the garden and last year these bore plentiful supplies.

After some subtle hints I secured for my last birthday an apple press and took my first steps in to cider making. And fairly successful it was too. I recommend having a go. I've been looking forward this year to scooping up the windfalls and picking the ripe fruit to make ciders and juices. 

But my dreams of supping appley nectar in the summer sun might yet be spoilt. It turns out the soggy, windy spring has hit our pollinators hard. Bug conservation groups are reporting serious impacts on butterflies, some bees and other species.

Cold weather is preventing some species from foraging, and the early warmth followed by colder weather is confusing others, affecting breeding. 

Over in Guernsey for example, it seems the strong winds have deterred pollinators from working their way around the apple trees, which could hit their cider production. For the bugs themselves, it could mean lower numbers this summer.

That bothers me because I want to play with my apple press and my fruit trees might not have been pollinated well. I spotted three or four species of bee in the garden this weekend, but on the whole I haven’t seen as many bees and butterflies in the garden as expected. 

But it bothers me for more than just that. It also emphasises for me how close the link is between our climate and our biodiversity and how even relatively gentle changes in weather patterns can have big knock-on effects. And of course it gives just a small taste of what we’d experience on our plates and in our fridges were we to lose pollinators like bees.

Neil Kingsnorth, Activism team

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