Did you know that in the last 50 years, out of the 50 native species of bees, there are only 25 left. Some scientists reckon that within a decade they could have all disappeared.
Why are bees so important to us? Bees are major pollinators: Pollinating up to at least a third of our crops within our normal diet. Without the native bees, the effect on crops and wild flowers could be catastrophic. After all, Einstein said without bees, the human race has only four years to live.
There are many reasons for why the bees are dying such as the industrial use of pesticides and increased use of GM crops. This means that bees now inhabit the towns much more. However, in the towns too many of us are predisposed to having a neat manicured garden, with little or no foliage for them to feed from.
So what can you do to help?
Firstly, plant some bee friendly plants! Sunflowers, scabious and foxgloves are all loved by bees. Herbs such as sage, fennel and thyme attract bees. In my garden, I have french and English lavender which seems to always have a hungry bee buzzing about. For more friendly bee plants, this is a great chart:
Additionally, bees need water and shelter. Alys Fowler, the Gardener’s World presenter, suggests providing a bowl of clean water with pebbles in it. I have also heard that providing a water with a little sugar in it can give bees an energy lift they need – they may appear lying on the ground as if they are dead, but in fact they just need a boost! Sugary water can help.
Wild bees need nesting sites. On the Friends of the Earth Website, again Alys Fowler suggested the following:
“Bundle old stems of stuff like Jerusalem artichokes or bamboo canes. Put them in a south west facing spot out of prevailing winds.”
Here, at TMK, I have discovered that Not on The High Street sells a Bee house, which could also help the bees.
Most importantly, try not to use insecticides. Neonicotinoids are well known to be bee killers. If you do use, try to limit use to evening when the bees are less active.
Lastly, if you can, don’t keep your garden too neat! Weeds such as buttercups and dandelions are loved by bees!
I really think these are small steps we can help conserve and increase the population of bees. Do let us know what you are doing in your gardens to help save the bees.
For more information and how to campaign to save the bees please see these sites from The Royal Horticultural Society and Friends of the Earth: