Bees are a very important part of the ecosystem around the world. Not only do we rely on them to pollinate many of our crops but birds and mammals also rely on them to pollinate the plants they eat. And it’s not only flowers and food crops which bees pollinate – trees rely on bees to pollinate them too.
However their numbers are falling and there are several reasons for this;
- Pesticide use on crops affects the bees nervous system making them feel disorientated and unable to feed until eventually they die.
- The varroa mite is a huge problem for honey bees. This tiny mite attaches itself to the bee and sucks its blood. When a bee returns to it’s hive the varroa mite spreads through the hive and can wipe out a whole colony in just a couple of years.
- The loss of wild spaces in the countryside means that bees have less places to find food and somewhere to live.
Bees need your help and with some simple changes to your garden you can make it ‘bee friendly’ and provide food, shelter and a place to nest.
Make your garden bee friendly
Let your lawn grow
If you have a lawn let it grow long and don’t get rid of the dandelions and clover – they are one of a bees favourite food source!
Don’t use pesticides
Avoid using pesticides and herbicides in your garden as they contain chemicals which are harmful to bees.
Bees need water too!
Put some water out for the bees – you could use a shallow bird bath or heavy dish with added pebbles for the bees to stand on.
Give bees a home
Not all bees live in colonies – many are solitary. Female solitary bees spend most of their lives searching for a suitable nesting site. Whilst some will nest in the ground others look for small holes to lay their eggs in.
You can help these bees by building a ‘bee hotel’ to provide them with a home. Your bee hotel can be something as simple as a small wooden box with bamboo canes in it. You could also create something more elaborate with different materials in such as logs with holes drilled into them, small sticks and straw to provide lots of nooks and crannies.
Grow bee friendly plants
Grow native pollen and nectar rich plants to provide food for bees. Make sure you have a variety of plants in flower from early spring to late autumn to provide food all year round. Grow bluebells, foxgloves, comfrey, clover, greater knapweed, hellebore, honeysuckle, viper’s bugloss, wood anemone.