We love bees. They are most important of the animal pollinators on the planet, on which 75% of our food crops and nearly 90% of wild flowering plants depend. Plus, they make delicious honey and are a prime source of puns. Watch this space...
But, right now, they are sadly in trouble and need our help. Because of a loss of habitat, increasingly unpredictable weather driven by climate change, non-native pests and diseases, irresponsible pesticide use and many other complex factors – bee populations and diversity of species are in decline.
Here are six simple ways you can help our bee-autiful friends keep on doing what they’re doing:
1. Plant flowers
There are more than 250 species of bee in the UK, and they have all evolved together with our local flora to fill a specific ecological niche. By planting a wide range of flowers, particularly native varieties that our friendly neighbourhood pollinators have evolved to thrive upon. Get down to beez-ness and get planting with Tabitha Eve’s Beebomb, featuring a mix of 18 native wildflower seeds.
2. Use organic pest control
Chemical pesticides are often harmful to the environment, and can even harm animals that would otherwise be beneficial. Many species affected are not actually harmful to gardens, or can be effectively controlled using other measures such as water spraying, natural predation or companion planting. Find out more from the RSPB, or check out these great sustainable gardening products from Pokon.
3. Save tired bees
What do you call a bee that needs a drink? Bee-hydrated. Well, sort of. During the summer months, you might spot a solitary bee sitting motionless on the ground. Whilst it’s easy to think that they are dead or dying, they often just need a quick boost of energy. To help, mix two tablespoons of white, granulated sugar with one tablespoon of water, placing it near the bee so it can help itself to life-sustaining nourishment.
4. Say no to Neonicotinoids
Neonicotinoids are a nasty pesticide used widely in agriculture. When they are sprayed onto plants or seeds, they are absorbed. So, when a bee comes to pollinate said plant, it will ingest this pesticide. This can seriously damage the bee’s central nervous system. Most commonly used neonics have been banned for use across the EU, however the UK government recently permitted their use on sugar beets in the UK. Although they reversed this decision under pressure, we need to keep pushing for a permanent ban. Learn more here.
5. Build your own Bee-st Western
Bad puns featuring obscure British hotel chains aside, providing accommodation for bees and other insects is a great way to help them thrive. The majority of species of bee in the UK are solitary, with many different needs when it comes to nesting. Learn about different ways to encourage bees to move in here.
6. Support bee-friendly charities
Environmental charities are united around their love for bees, as they are a cornerstone of the natural world that we cannot do without. In addition to providing direct support to the environment, charities play a crucial part in lobbying government and business. Whilst it is tough for us to make waves on our own, by joining a cause and uniting your voice with others we can make a difference!
For a start, try checking out the Friends of the Earth who will send a free-bee bee-saving kit your way when you donate.
Cover image via Pinterest