Using organic weed killers could help the bee population recover

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The Independent Online

A study has found that efforts to reverse the dwindling bee population by planting flowers could be counterproductive if harmful weed killers and pesticides are used. However, a number of websites offer recipes for alternative organic weed killers.

Bees are an integral part of the eco-system and vital to crops such as strawberries or runner beans which depend on the insects for pollination. Since 2007 the bee population around the world has been in massive decline, but the World Organization for Animal Health has stated that this cannot be attributed to any single factor, though pesticides and human activities are thought to be partly to blame.

In an effort to increase the bee population, gardeners have been encouraged to plant flowers; however, the study conducted by scientists from the United Kingdom and New Zealand and released on October 12 found that this may be counterproductive due to the use of weed killers and pesticides in gardens.

The use of chemical weed killers and pesticides is both indirectly and directly harmful to bees; weed killers reduce the number of garden wildflowers which form the bees' natural habitat and can easily contaminate the beehive, wiping out the population.

A number of websites provide recipes for organic weed killers, which are more environmentally friendly and less harmful to bees. The majority of organic weed killers can be made using readily available household products such as vinegar.

Recipes for organic weed killer can be found at:

For gardeners interested in planting flowers likely to attract bees, red flowering plants and flowers with stripes are believed to be the most effective.

The full study, due to be published in New Phytologist, is available for subscribers to read here