Could weeding your garden be harming bees?

Could weeding your garden be harming bees?

As it's the start of spring, many of us are preparing to tidy up our gardens and get rid of weeds that have sprung up over the winter. Though whilst we want our gardens to be neat and weed free, de-weeding your garden could actually be harmful to pollinators such as bees. Bees and other pollinators love weeds, particularly thistles and ragwort. Having a greater diversity of plants in your garden ensures that bees have enough food and also helps create better habitats for other creatures.

However, under the 1959 Weeds Act, certain weeds are classified as 'injurious', meaning they are able to cause harm to humans and animals and therefore should be contained by landowners. This includes ragwort (small, yellow flowers), thistles, and docks. Despite their potential harm to human health is consumed or interfered with, these weeds are extremely beneficial to bees and other pollinators. Studies show that these weeds can produce up to four times more nectar than the plants that DEFRA recommends and are therefore more ideal for bees to feed on. Additionally, bees have evolved to sense colour and certain types of plants and research has shown that bees are more attracted to these types of weeds. If these plants are present within an area, pollination will increase alongside the biodiversity of the area.

Preserving naturally occurring weeds could be a potential solution to improving biodiversity, something that the government is attempting to increase by 30% by 2030. Currently, the government spends £10 million of taxpayer money per year on controlling injurious weeds but this could change as calls to change the Weeds Act continue. However, farmers and landowners have resisted these proposed changes, claiming that the weeds are harmful to crop yields and can also be harmful to animals such as horses. Whilst this is a concern, the changes to the legislation would attempt to mitigate potential harm caused to farming. If you're looking to help conserve bees and pollinators in your garden, avoid cutting back weeds and do not use pesticides or chemicals on your garden. You can also grow bee-friendly plants with lots of brightly coloured flowers and use 'no-dig' methods to improve the biodiversity of your land.

For more information on biodiversity and how to conserve it, visit our blog at

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