Updated: Feb 5
The importance of bees should be without question and many of you may already know why we should save them. However, even now as it is slowly (too slowly) being brought to our attention the reasons why we need to pay more attention to their numbers and the fact they are depleting shows we need to do more. Before I go on, to clarify, bees are important because through their goal to obtain pollen and nectar for food, they pollinate millions of plants in the process. This is important because this leads to the production of seeds for more plants to grow and even for the fruit to develop for us to eat. If you are still not convinced the reason this is important is because these plants produce the oxygen we breathe and help to combat the large amounts of carbon emissions we produce. Further to this, there are the millions of plants that are gorgeous to look at and should be able to survive in an environment that is theirs as much it is ours, that also gives our wildlife a home. So for this reason we need to help the bees to not just survive but thrive, making the bigger question ‘how can we help the bees?’
Here is how you can help the bees today!
There can many steps to helping bees without invest a lot of time and money in becoming a full time beekeeper or devoting your life to their development. Although there is the famous honey bees there are actually nearly 20,000 different types. In the UK the majorities are solitary bees like the Bumblebee, which do not live in large colonies. There are many easy measures you can take that will contribute to bees success and increasing there numbers but here are a few of them:
Try not to kill them:
Sounds silly I know but a lot of people are afraid of bees and more so getting stung by them. This is completely rational but that doesn’t mean you should swat, hit or squash them or take a hose to their nest because you think they are too close to your house or your space. At the very least the best thing you can do is leave the bees be. If they have intruded too much then get a professional bee keeper who will often be happy to collect the bees to take them to a safer and better place for them to start a colony. Remember bees live everywhere outside, so we are sharing our space with them.
Now, this doesn’t have to be a hive in your back garden but there is more than one type of bee. You may have seen them in shops but you can get small bug huts, which is great for solitary bees. Otherwise, you could take up bee keeping and invest in a bee hive. Before you panic though, investing in a bug hut does not invite a swarm of bees in your back garden but provides a habitat for insect to rest and stay. This includes insect that pollinate your garden, importantly the solitary bees, which make up over 90% of the UK’s bee species. Look for a spot that catches the sun in the morning but remains a shady and cool place all day, which gives cover from predators (birds, snakes, rats). Also, ensure that the bug hut sits in a position it will not receive too much rain and allows for water to drip away and not sit, which could potentially drown the occupants. Many bees will also lay their larva in this, so you are supporting the next generation of bees.
There are many plants that help bees through the amount of pollen and nectar they offer and the longevity of the plant throughout the year. By providing these in your garden you are helping the bees to collect the pollen and nectar they need. Some of my top choices are lavender, Dahlia, Foxgloves, Sweet Williams, bluebells, Sunflowers and Thyme just to name a few. If you want some more information on some of these, please go to my post on “Top Plants for bees”
Food and water:
In the summer bees work incredibly hard. This can lead to them running out of energy and becoming dehydrated. You can help them through providing a pit stop for them to rehydrate and to give them an energy boost. To do this make a sugar water solution (RSPB suggest two tablespoons of white granulated sugar with one tablespoon of water) and put it on a small plate or spoon in your garden. This rehydrates the bee and gives it energy to continue on its task of collecting pollen and thus pollinating your plants. However, be careful not to have the water too deep, as the bees may drown. If you do this, be sure to send me a picture or video of your bees with #feedthebees.
Support your local beekeeper:
If you want to continue and go the extra mile give your support to your local beekeeper. This can be through donations to them, buying their raw and natural honey or buying their other bee products. This will often taste better than mass produced honey, is better for the environment and means the beekeeper can obtain more hives, meaning more bees for the environment in your area. If possible, support a beekeeper who does not use a smoker to be more ethical.
Promote the bee:
Finally, try to promote the bee as much as you can. I don’t think it’s best to go around “preaching” about bees but if it comes up in conversation always try to persuade people to do more. Especially, if you have kids get them to recognise the importance of bees, so the next generation has a better understand of how and why you should take care of them. Even buying products with a bee symbols can increase their prominence and hopefully make people take more notice of these beautiful and amazing creature and all they do for us.
One more thing to note is to be wary of the products you purchase and the impact this may have on bees. For example many fruit and vegetables are sprayed with pesticides that kill bees, so should be avoided if possible. Also, mass produced honey can be unethical and actually more damaging, so be wary of this. I hope I gave you something to think about and some easy and useful ways you can help bees. Always try to remember what bees do for our planet, plants and agriculture and to implement some of the tips above to help them thrive. Anyway, I would love to see what you have done, so make sure to send me pictures and videos of how you have helped bees on my social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) with #supportthebees #Helpthebees #Bee-kind #feedthebees #plantforthebees and any other tags that will get more people’s attention.