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“Bee-friendly is the new black!” – A garden for insects

Bee and rose - Photo: BGL
Bee and rose – Photo: BGL

Over the past years one theme has come under focus among some of the garden owners that hardly played a role in this form previously: Insects. In the past, measures were taken more to get rid of the insects and one was pleased when there weren’t too many insects creeping and flattering around one’s own garden. Today, a nature-oriented garden is not only designed to please the owner, the beetles, butterflies and co. are also supposed to feel at home there.

The reason why insects have suddenly become so interesting is understanding: The species extinction is a theme that is also affecting Germany. “One third of the species recorded on the red list is endangered and further species are indeed already extinct,” is how BfN President, Prof. Beate Jessel, summed up the results of the first species conservation report of the Bundesamts für Naturschutz / Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN). For example, the situation of the 600 species of wild bees that live in Germany is alarming. As many other insects, they are of great significance for our ecosystem: They pollinate our fruit trees and are an important source of food for birds and other animals. The BfN cites the intensive forms of land cultivation, in particular extensive monocultures, as one of the main causes for species endangerment.

Therefore, for many nature-conscious hobby gardeners merely falling back on biological fertilisers and pesticides no longer suffices. They want to proactively do something for the biodiversity in their garden and also for the insects. This is why on designing their garden they predominantly choose domestic shrubs and bushes, which provide the insects with food, a habitat and protection. So-called insect hotels and other nesting aids are also provided.

The insect friends are also very active on the social networks and intensive discussions on how gardens have to be designed are held. If a photo is posted with a wonderful full rose by a garden owner, it doesn’t necessarily receive just “likes” for it. It is immediately pointed out that this flower is totally useless as a source of nutrition for bees and that the owner should rather plant varieties of wild roses. For many other garden friends this type of over-correctness goes too far. For example, on the Facebook page “Rettet den Vorgarten” (“Save the front garden”) in the discussion as to whether one is allowed to use topiaries or not a rather exasperated user commented regarding the garden trend: “I know bee-friendly is the new black.”

Indeed it is particularly the bees that the Germans are enthusiastic about. Because life is not only difficult in the free nature for wild bees – there numbers have been reducing constantly for years – also many colonies of honeybees are fighting for survival. In addition to the varroa mite infestation, above all the huge implementation of insecticides as well as the culture landscapes where food is scarce are making it difficult for them to survive.

The threat to the honeybee and the manifold coverage thereof has aroused the interest of many people in beekeeping. More and more garden owners – especially also in the cities – have their own beehive. There are allegedly well over 600 city beekeepers currently in Berlin alone. And in a Hamburg-based magazine it was recently reported: “The status symbol in the garden may still be the barbecue or the outdoor kitchen for many people, but for others it has long since become the beehive.” This has also resulted in a turnaround in the trend of the type of beekeeping. Whereas in the past beekeeping was frequently oriented on the yield of honey, today one talks about “bee-friendly beekeeping”. The focus is now placed on the needs and the health of the colony of bees.

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