Bees are in decline all around the world, but especially in Britain for a number of reasons. Loss of habitat, pesticides and other factors add to their decline, which is devastating to see. Bees are vital to our Earth so it’s important we stop this decline as soon as possible.
Bees pollinate around a third of the food that we eat and they also pollinate foraging crops that livestock eat (so if you’re a meat eater, it’s super important to do your bit for the bees).
I thought I’d share a few facts about bees to begin with;
In the UK there is one type of honeybee, 24 species of bumblebee and over 250 species of solitary bees. You’ll most often see honeybees and bumblebees buzzing around your garden from flower to flower.
Honeybees collect pollen from flowers and store it in pockets on their legs, which they take back to the hive to turn into honey. There is usually over 10,000 honeybees per hive going up by thousands to larger hives.
Bumblebees don’t live in hives, instead they live in nests, usually underground or in a type of box or small habitat. There are far less bumblebees in a group than there are honeybees in a hive. Bumblebees leave their nest to go out and gather nectar from flowers to add to the stores in the nest, and pollen to feed their young. Solitary bees - as you can tell from their name - live on their own and tend to live in holes which is where they bring their food back to.
If there aren’t enough flowers nearby, then this can be extremely dangerous for all bees as they need to keep a full stomach in order to survive or make their honey. Here’s a few tips on some things you can do to make a bee-friendly garden and help slow down the loss of these incredible creatures. Not only will creating a bee haven help the bees, but it will make your garden thrive too…
Probably very obvious but the more flowers you have, the easier it’ll be for bees to seek them out and they’ll be able to gather more pollen & nectar to survive. A few favourites for bees include foxgloves, alliums, viper’s bugloss, fuchsia, dahlias, geranium, white comfrey, sunflowers…pretty much anything you can plant is better than nothing and bees particularly love purple/blue flowers! Seedball have a special mix especially for bees called “Bee Mix” which is available at Nectar & Bumble and contains flowers recommended by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust as wonderful for bees.
Bees come out of hibernation in early Spring and can be seen as late as October/November time so it’s extremely important to have flowers in your garden that’ll come through at various times of year!
These are incredibly harmful for bees, other wildlife and the environment as a whole so it’s important to avoid pesticides and insecticides when gardening. These can be found in weed killer & other gardening products as well as on plants themselves. The EU has just banned the use of pesticides on outdoor crops which is an amazing step in the right direction but we need to take this further and have them banned from use in other products & areas too.
Don’t step on or harm bees
Sometimes people get bees confused with wasps or think that bees are going to harm them by stinging. Bumblebees are very unlikely to sting you unless they feel threatened and they’ll often warn you off first with a similar move to a high-5 (looks like they’re waving to you but they’re probably warning you to back off!).
If you see a bee on the ground that looks tired, it may need a little pick me up. If you’re near to a flower then simply pop it on one close-by or if not then you can make a water/sugar solution to feed it.
If you’ve got quite a large garden, why not let your grass grow and see what wildflowers grow with it? Dandelions are a fantastic source of food for bees early on in the year and this wild patch is also amazing for other insects too.
Join the Great British Bee Count
Friends of the Earth have just launched their annual bee counting app, the Great British Bee Count. You can download the free app and every time you spot a bee, simply fill in a few details on the app and it helps FoE on their research on British bees! You’ll also learn how to identify different species and it’s a great way to get kids involved too!
This post was written by our friends at Nectar & Bumble.
Why not take a look at Nectar & Bumble, my online store dedicated to bees. 10% of profits are donated to bee charities in the UK – the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and the Friends of the Earth (Bee Cause). We stock a range of gifts, homeware & natural skincare and I’ve just launched a new monthly subscription box which will be full of 4-5 bee theme products like stationery, candles, sweet treats, jewellery & more! Subscribe for just £22.95 per month!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and it’s encouraged you to do your part to help save the bees!
(founder of Nectar & Bumble)
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- Tags: Bees, Gardening for Birds, Gardens, Nature, Nature Lovers, Save the Bees, Wild Gardens, Wildlife