Helping the Bees
Bees are the principal pollinators and crucial for food production.
Bees (bumblebees, honey bees and solitary bees) are the principal pollinators of flowering plants and are crucial for food production. In the UK, bee pollination services contribute an estimated £1.8 billion per year to the UK economy. If we were to take over the role of pollination from bees in the UK alone, it would require a workforce of 30 million people! Without bees, many fruits, vegetables and other crops would not grow and many wild flowers would disappear from the countryside.
Yet the disappearance of bees is a very real threat. Most of the UK’s bumblebee species have greatly declined in recent years, with two species extinct in the UK since the 1940’s, while honeybee numbers have dropped by 50% in the last 25 years.
A major factor causing their decline is the loss of countryside wildflowers (which bees rely on for food) due to intensive farming methods, including cropland monocultures and heavy use of insecticides. Even small amounts of pesticides have been associated with a decline in the number of nest queens and increase in the number of ”disappeared” bees – those that fail to return from food foraging trips. See Pesticide Action Network UK for more information about pesticide use and bees.
Top five tips to help the bees
• Plant bee friendly plants
• Don’t use pesticides
• Create a bee pond – a shallow dish with water and stones or marbles
• Carry a bee saver kit with sugar water to help tired bees on the move
• Buy organic food
What can we do to help?
The best thing you can do to help bees is to plant native flowers in the garden. Bees need nectar-rich flowers between March and September, however many of the cultivated and exotic flowers that are common in gardens produce no nectar (or it’s inaccessible to bees). And not only do wildflowers look fantastic, they’re hardy, resistant to slugs and pests, suited to our climate, and bursting with pollen and nectar. That’s why at Project Maya Seedball we’ve made a promise to ourselves, and you, to only ever stock native flowers, sourced in the UK.
A few other suggestions:
- When planting and not using wildflowers look for pollinator friendly plants
- Don’t use pesticides in your garden
- Create a bee friendly pond in your garden, this can be as simple as a shallow dish with water pebbles or marbles.
- When out and about carry a bee saver kit – a small bottle of sugar water (not honey) will save a tired bee
- Buy organic food
- If you have an allotment to grow veggies, setting aside space for a wildflower meadow is a great way to return the favour for the bees’ pollination services!
- Take part in national bee surveys
- Support campaigns like the Friends of the Earth Bee Cause
- Support organisations like the Bumblebee Conservation Trust
- Build your own bee hotel (use link to our blog)
- Learn to become a beekeeper. That way you get honey too! Brilliant.