Thursday, 12 August 2010

Tricky Subject

Himalayan Balsam Impatiens glandulifera is a tricky plant. It's an invasive species and can create large stands on riverbanks shading out and suppressing grasses and native plants. When it dies back in autumn and winter it leaves the riverbanks bare and therefore liable to erosion. It grows to 2m in height and the explosive seeds can fall up to 6 - 7 m from the original plant. Each plant can produce up to approx 2,500 seeds.

But talking to Ivor, the beekeeper, he said he loves that there is Himalayan Balsam on the YSP site as bees absolutely love it. And, if it wasn't for the presence of Himalayan Balsam in the past two dull, rainy summers bees would have been in real trouble.
However, research is being conducted on the effects caused by bees preferring to feed on the balsam instead of other native flowering plants in any given area.

The bees at YSP do love the balsam, but i'm not convinced that any monoculture in the landscape is a good idea. It's not just about bees is it? Surely if Himalayan Balsam spreads so much, to the detriment of other native plants, then lots of other species, like insects and birds etc, will decline too. Isn't it all about the whole picture, not just supplying honeybees with an easy food source?

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