Updated: Feb 12
Here are our top tips to help you "bee" friendly come rain, shine or snow! With a changing climate and increasing habitat loss, bees need all the help they can get.
Bees are suffering
There are more than 250 species of bees in the UK, including the honey bee that normally lives in hives managed by beekeepers.
Bees are pollinators and play a critical role in healthy ecosystems, so are essential for our food production. Pollinators are worth a staggering £690 million per annum to the UK economy, and more than three-quarters of the world’s food crops are in part dependent on them. Yet, bee populations are suffering.
Here in the UK, habitat loss and fragmentation combined with climate change are having huge impacts on bee populations. In East Anglia – 17 species have gone regionally extinct and many others are at risk. Local biodiversity is being negatively affected by the changing climate, and bees are being badly hit.
So here are some tips on how to "bee-friendly" to encourage bee populations to thrive in the UK once again.
Easy things to help Bees
Plant a range of flowers in your garden so bees have access to nectar from March to October. You can use the winter season to plan a garden full of nectar-rich plants that bees can forage come spring. Bees love traditional cottage garden flowers and native wildflowers, like primrose, buddleia, and marigolds.
If you have space, leave a section of the garden untended – as some bees love long grass, or making nests in compost heaps or under hedgerows. Bees love large drifts of the same flowers. And they look spectacular as well!
You can also buy (or easily build) an ‘insect hotel’ using hollow stems like bamboo, twigs and string – just tie together a length of these and put them in a hedge or bush, or hang somewhere sheltered to provide a home for bees and other insects.
Eat Sustainable Honey.
Is honey good or bad for bees? When done right, bee farming can be beneficial for wild populations and still allow you to enjoy honey.
When choosing honey - try to go for something local, from individual beekeepers who practice sustainability. This way you know where your honey is coming from and can cut down on the carbon emissions used to ship honey to your local supermarket.
Harmful chemicals are often used in agriculture to get rid of pests in our environment. Bees can pick up these insecticides when they are pollinating and take them back to the hive. This causes declines in the bee populations and can even make it into the honey we eat! If you choose to buy organic honey you are making sure that bees are pollinating in pesticide-free areas.
Finally - eat honey less often. Even if you do all of the above, cutting honey consumption will ultimately help bee populations the most. There’s no need to give it up completely, but just save it for an occasional treat!
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