A major part of our natural ecosystem on this herb farm is the biodiversity of pollinators. Many plants rely on insects to pollinate their flowers and to complete their reproductive cycle. Pollinators visit flowers to harvest their nectar and pollen. They move pollen from the male anther of a flower to the female stigma of a flower, so playing a crucial role in the flower reproduction, transferring pollen and fertilising flowers as they go from herb to herb. Insect pollinators include bees (honey bees, solitary species, bumblebees), pollen wasps, ants, flies, beetles hoover flies, mosquitoes, butterflies and moths.
We promote these pollinators as they help make healthy, tasty and strong herbs. We have three hives on the herb farm and those that are fortunate enough to have brought some of our raw honey at one of our Open Days also know how great it tastes.
In addition to the importance of pollinators for fertilisation, scientists are becoming increasingly aware of the role pollinators play in ensuring human health. For example, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, calcium, folate and fluoride (and others) are produced primarily by insect-pollinated plants.
However, recent data shows pollinator numbers to be in decline, which is cause for global concern. If we want to combat the “Hidden Hunger”, we must therefore prevent widespread pollinator decline in both abundance and diversity.
We therefore encourage you to plant herbs and other plants to support pollinators. You need to plant not only plants with nectar and pollen rich flowers but also those that pollinator larvae feed off, like Dill and Fennel.
Some of Jekka's favourite examples of herbs that would promote and support pollinators are listed below. For more ideas, Jean Vernon (aka Jeanie Bee) who, in 2021, the Garden Media Guild recognised her for her writing about bees, has listed her favourite in her guide to planting herbs for bees & pollinators. We are delighted to have Jean as a frequent guest and friend to our Open Days.
We have included some of these favourite herbs in Jekka's seed collections, in particular: Birds & Bees, Biodiversity and Wild Herbs. Also, in our "For the Garden" range we sell a number of bee homes, including, the Bee Barn, the Bee Nester and Eco Nesting Tubes that can be found in Jekka’s Pollinating Gardeners Gift Box.