Page last updated at 10:26 GMT, Monday, 28 July 2008 11:26 UK

Garden paradise opened for bees

Great Yellow Bumblebee on Red Clover
The Trust hopes the garden will show how easy it is to help bees

A wildlife garden which aims to boost survival rates for bumblebees has opened at the University of Stirling.

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust hope the space will act as an example to gardeners on how they can help save the threatened insect.

They have planted a range of wild flowers known to attract the bees.

Experts believe the growth in popularity of commercial bedding plants is contributing to the decline of the UK's bee population.

Lucie Southern, a conservation officer with the trust, said: "We want to encourage gardeners to consider more "cottage garden" plants and wildflowers, such as flowering heather and flowering currants in the spring, honeysuckle, foxgloves, lupins, teasel and herbs such as mint, thyme and sage in the summer, then lavender, buddleia, cornflowers and hollyhocks for the autumn.

"Lots of bedding plants have been bred to increase colour, bloom size, shape and "showiness" at the expense of the nectar which plants produce.

"And often these blooms have such complex petal configurations, that bees can't enter the flower to reach whatever nectar might exist."

Ms Southern said that if gardeners planted a couple of bumblebee-friendly plants, it would help halt their decline.

Bees pollinate the vast majority of flowering crops and wild flowers.

Without pollination, crops like beans, peas, strawberries and raspberries will fail to produce harvests.

The garden has been opened on the north side of the campus by Hermitage Wood and will be permanently accessible to the public.

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