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Bumblebee hives are live

by Rhiannon James

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Fat, furry bumblebees toiling away in the garden is one of the best sights of the summer and now you can make sure you enjoy it, as live bumblebee hives go on sale to gardeners for the first time in the UK.

The Beepol Garden Hive, a live colony of bumblebees and the Beepol Bumblebee Lodge, a wooden home for the hive, will be available from garden retailers in April.

The benefits of owning a colony go beyond just the pleasure of bumblebees’ company, according to Julian Ives, Managing Director at Dragonfli, the company supplying the hives.

“Bumblebees are fantastic pollinating insects so you’ll get very good set and better yields from your fruit and vegetables, if you’ve got them working in the garden. There’s also a conservation angle because it’s a British species of bumblebee in the hives so you are topping up the natural levels which have been in decline. Then there’s also the educational benefit of watching the bees at work,” he said.

Commercial growers regularly use bumblebee hives for pollination of crops like tomatoes but this is the first time a miniature version has been available that’s suitable for gardeners. As well as playing a vital role in helping crops to bear fruit, bumblebees are also major pollinators of Britain’s wildflowers.

Unlike honeybee colonies, bumblebee hives won’t produce any honey and the bees will only survive for one season, but they are very low maintenance and no training is needed to look after them.

The Beepol Bumblebee Lodge and Garden Hive are available from www.crocus.co.ukwww.harrodhorticultural.com and RHS Garden Wisley and cost up to £140 for the set and £80 for just the hive.

www.dragonfli.co.uk

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