Save our strawberries

A british summer without strawberries would be unthinkable. However, the charity Adopt-a-hive warns that strawberry plants, which rely on bees and other insects to transfer pollen, could be adversely affected by plummeting bee numbers-a recent survey showed that one in five children had never seen a bee in the wild.

The varroa mite has been blamed, as have insecticides, including the controversial neo-nicotinoids. ‘In Britain, pollination is worth about £200 million a year,’ explains Adopt-a-hive founder Tony Gray. ‘Without pollinating insects, we wouldn’t have any fruit.’ Last year, scientists at the University of Reading warned that the price of a 10-strawberry punnet at Wimbledon could soar by some 84% to £4.14 if crops had to be hand-pollinated.

However, producers are keen to stress that the current crop is thriving. ‘We have a plentiful supply at the moment, and it’s very high quality, due to the cooler weather,’ says Richard Harnden of British Summer Fruits, which represents 85% of UK berry growers.

Adopt-a-Hive is urging gardeners to choose native plants instead of exotic imports, to use bold colour combinations and grouping flowering plants together in clusters.

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