How to bee friendly
There are at least 1500 species of insect pollinators in the UK, including the honey bee that normally lives in hives managed by beekeepers. Others, like many species of bumblebees, solitary bees, moths, butterflies and hoverflies live in the wild. They all play a critical role in healthy ecosystems, and they are essential for our food production. More than three quarters of the world’s food crops are in part dependent on pollination. Yet, pollinators are dying. The IUCN European Red List of Threatened Species showed that as many as 24% of Europe’s bumblebee species are now threatened with extinction.
There are big changes planned with the way Agriculture and the Environment are approached across the UK and we are working to ensure that these help us protect wildlife everywhere. We wanted to share some tips with you on how to be bee friendly even if you’re not a beekeeper yourself.
1. Grow your bee friendly garden
Plant a range of flowers in your garden so bees have access to nectar from March to October. Bees love traditional cottage garden flowers and native wildflowers, like primrose, buddleia, and marigolds. If you plan carefully you can have a range of flowers through the whole season. Incidentally, because of climate change and exotic plants in people’s gardens bees are beginning to be active in winter, so you could be helping them all year round!
If you have space, leave a section of the garden untended – 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.
2. Treat your buzzing friends to some sugar and let it rest
A tired bee really does like a tiny hit of sugar (never honey!) Make a mix of two teaspoons of white granulated sugar with one teaspoon of water and put it on a plate or drip it on the flower, to revive a tired bee. Make sure to always use white granulated rather than other sugar. Sometimes when bee lies on the ground and doesn’t move, it might be just resting, so after you’ve given it some sugary water, just simply let it be(e).
3. Get involved with campaigns near you
As the new Agriculture Bill goes through parliament, we will be pushing for specific measures to restore bee and other pollinators’ habitats.
We need the new Agriculture Bill to bring measurable changes benefiting pollinators and biodiversity at large scale by protecting and restoring pollinators’ habitats. Only then can we ensure the long-term sustainability of pollination which we rely on for our food. Although the Bill only applies to England, we’d urge the governments across the UK to adopt similar measures.
We need to make sure farmers are supported to do things that are good for nature but don’t bring in direct income.