Bee-friendly plant sales to help fund honey bee research

Honey Bee on Ivy

The Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects (LASI) at the University of Sussex and garden plant purveyors Habitat Aid have joined forces to help the honeybee.

Good gardeners are important to bees, as a garden stocked with bee-friendly plants can help to provide any extra nectar and pollen bees might need that they can’t find elsewhere. Flowering trees can play an important role in providing a large number of flowers on which bees can forage.

Nick Mann of Habit Aid has produced a range of garden plant collections to appeal to gardeners and bees alike. One of the collections features native and exotic trees favoured by bees. Nick will be donating half the proceeds from tree collection sales to the Sussex Plan for Honey Bee Health and Well-Being, the five-year research programme currently under way at LASI.

A new range of medicinal herbs, a Medieval Physic Garden collection featuring a number of bee-friendly plants, has also been introduced. Physic Gardens included herbs grown for use in Plague "remedies".

Dr Karin Alton, one of the scientists in the Sussex Plan team, LASI says: ”The importance of what gardeners and landowners can do to help honey bees cannot be underestimated.

“Many gardeners do not want to limit their plant and tree choice to native species, so this collection provides an alternative list of exotic and beautiful trees. They also have the added bonus that they produce flowers in spring or late summer, when food for bees is often scarce.”

A lack of forage is one of the factors that has been linked to so-called Colony Collapse Disorder, a subject currently being investigated by researchers at the University of Sussex.

Nick Mann says: “I'm delighted that Habitat Aid is able to support the Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects [LASI] at the University of Sussex. As a beekeeper myself I am acutely aware of how important and urgent the team's work is.

“This is an important cause, and as a beekeeper myself, it is one particularly close to my heart.’

LASI, led by Professor of Apiculture Francis Ratnieks, was officially opened in April 2009 at the University of Sussex. Since October 2008, LASI researchers have been working on the Sussex Plan for Honey Bee Health and Well Being. The laboratory is researching, alongside fundamental insect biology, improved beekeeping practices, honeybee diseases, breeding and conservation.

LASI also studies other social insects such as ants, and embrace both applied scientific projects such as the Sussex Plan, and pure science projects that look at social insect behaviour and biology in the round. The laboratory's vital work is only partly publicly funded, and needs continuing charitable donations to continue.

Providing honeybees nectar in the autumn and winter is increasingly important given the recent trend of cold wet summers and warm winters. A poor June-August means that late summer isn't only problematic for honeybees because of marauding wasps, but also means it is increasingly important for them to find late forage ahead of the winter. Later on in the season they will fly on warm winter days and, if they find no nectar, use up their honey stores too quickly and starve.

Notes for Editors


To find out more about Habit Aid’s project and its range of bee-friendly plants, visit Habitat Aid: For more information about the work of the Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects, visit the LASI web site

Last updated: Monday, 19 October 2009