We write a lot on this blog about allotments, but it is becoming clear that these are probably our best urban habitats for insect pollinators after gardens. Sampling last week, the Reading team visited an allotment that was practically leaking flowers it was so densely planted. The site was humming with bees - even this late in the season. The typical allotment vegetables were interspersed with dozens of bright blooms - planted simply to provide forage for bees.
|Ina and Malcom on their pollinator friendly allotment plot|
The allotment keepers Ina and Malcolm watched amused as we proceeded to count each and every single flower in our square metre quadrats that were positioned every four metres along the edge of their plot. After that exhaustive exercise we strolled alongside their plot catching bumblebee after bumblebee! Even in the height of summer we would struggle to capture as many bees as we found on this single plot so late in the season.
|The Reading team discusses insect conservation with the allotment holders|
|Peter catching a pollinator|
|Pollinator put in a tube to be identified at University|
Allotments are phenomenally hard work to keep productive, and rainy weather, armies of slugs, green fly, cabbage white caterpillars and weevils will do their best to unravel all your hard work. So, although we wish every allotment was as well-tended and wildlife-friendly as this one, its important to note that simply growing your vegetables on such a site will benefit the insects we all rely on.
|These flowers were sown to attract pollinators to the allotment site|