GR Direct - Sony - Save up to £300 on selected Bravia OLED & LED TVs
Monday 27 May 2024
 11.2°C   SE Gentle Breeze
Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

Letters / Garden ‘bee bombs’ are not the problem

In response to Rosa Steppanova’s and James Mackenzie’s letter Advice on how to stop the decline of bees, (SN, 7 May 2019), I would like to make a few comments.

Although I welcome some of the advice given, some is just wrong. The eugenic perfection (genetic purity) of our native plants is a distraction. Seed introduction, wildflower or “domestic variants”, has been with humanity for eons.

We will always carry a risk of contaminating natural flora but that is no real risk to bees. It is not garden ‘bee bombs’ but all commercial agriculture, garden centres or farming/crofting that is our problem.

Shetland has had many thousands of hectares of natural land desecrated. Limed, burnt back, drained, herbicides and reseeded. This reseeding, with literally tons of seed, mostly ryegrasses with non-native clovers and countless unknown other wildflowers applied. All this ‘land improvement’ has damaged the environment immensely for many decades.

Then, to add insult to injury, the land has been massively overgrazed by sheep. That has destroyed natural habits, bees, birds and all native flora.

It is not in any way the crofters/farmers to blame for this but our friends in Brussels (EU) with their Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Ludicrous grants for this destruction literally thrown out for endless form filling, paying no heed to our environment. In order to survive our crofting businesses had little choice but to comply with the EU directives.

There are countless further threats to native flowers mostly from casual import of contaminated soil in pots plants.  Plant in pots and non-sterile compost carry New Zealand Flatworm (already in Shetland), vine weevil and countless diseases and parasites, regularly imported into Shetland by the ‘garden industry’.

The only true defence is restricting/stopping any grown plant imports; I do not recommend that (gardening would be too dull). There is however not one iota of scientific evidence to support Rosa and James’s claim that “seed from other geographical sources can be a threat to our native flora’s unique genetic pool and ultimately to the bees you are hoping to protect”.

Become a supporter of Shetland News


I would suggest the threat from imported seed is far less damaging than the sale and transportation of pot plants in non-sterile soil. I should not need to remind Rosa and James that Lea Gardens is almost entirely made up of imported plants from overseas; with very little, if any, being natural or native to Shetland.

I have no criticism of that, Rosa and James, like other crofters, have to make a living, but please, cut the humbug.  Lea Gardens has imported seed for decades.

Ian Tinkler

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.



Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.