10 Ways to Help Save The Bees This Summer
Did you know that there are currently more than 250 bee species resident in Britain? 24 of these are the humble bumble bees we all know so well.
Sadly bees are in real danger due to factors like habitat destruction, climate change, pesticides and disease.
Without bees, humans would struggle to harvest enough crops including all our favourite fruits and vegetables that make our diet healthy and tasty. A third of all our food is pollinated by bees, and it would cost UK farmers £1.8 billion every year to have their crops pollinated without them.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could all work together to help reverse the decline in bees?
We’ve listed 10 different ways you can get started today – it’s easier than you think!
1. Grow Bee-Friendly Flowers & Plants
You don’t have to be particularly green-fingered to keep flowers in your garden. A few pots filled with vibrant bee-friendly plants such as lavender, hydrangea, honeysuckle or wild flowers is all you need to attract various species of bees to your outdoor space.
2. Support Your Local Bee Keeper
Try and support your local bee keeper as much as possible by opting for natural local honey and beeswax products like soap, lip balm, furniture polish and candles. Buying locally keeps food miles down and helps the bee keeper to cover the costs of beekeeping and producing honey.
3. Practice Organic Gardening
Thankfully, a range of pesticides that can harm bees has now been banned in the UK and European Union. However, keeping your garden chemical-free too will allow busy bumblebees to keep working without the risk of affecting them or their colony. Opt for organic weed-killers and grass seeds, or make your own pest control from all-natural ingredients.
4. Build a Bee Bath
It’s thirsty work being a busy pollinator! Give our hard-working bees and other pollinating insects access to drinking water by adding some water to a shallow dish along with some pebbles or other smooth stones. Make sure that some of the pebbles are raised slightly above the water, as bees hate getting their feet wet.
5. Embrace Your Weeds
Yes, they can be unsightly, but if you can bear to let certain weeds thrive in your garden it can be brilliant for our bees! Dandelions, daisies and clover on your lawn are great for pollen and nectar, and are just a few of their favourite plants to feed on. Habitat loss is just one of the main causes of bee decline, so it’s the perfect excuse to get a bit lazy in the garden this summer and allow plants, flowers and grasses to grow wild.
6. Mix Up a ‘Bee Cocktail’
Keep bees hydrated and alert, especially when the weather is at its hottest. The RSPB recommend mixing 2 tablespoons of white granulated sugar with 1 tablespoon of water in a shallow dish like an eggcup to provide an energy boost. Nestle some in your bee-friendly flowerbeds so they can be found easily while they work.
7. Bee Friendly
Bees are harmless and fascinating creatures to have in your garden when left alone to work, and won’t sting you unless they feel under threat. They are attracted to bright colours and see dark clothing as a threat, so dress in natural colours when you spend time relaxing outdoors. Most bees can be found on lawns as well as in plants, so make sure you wear shoes or slippers when playing on the grass.
If a bee does fly around you, don’t swat at it or spray it with water. Stay still and it should fly away on its own – remember most bees die after they sting, so it’s in their best interest to play nice too!
8. Create a Herb Garden
Herb gardens are always fantastic to have, whether you’re a keen gardener or not. Plant them in a pretty pot or trough and get creative to mark which herb is which! Not only will home-grown herbs make the likes of homemade pizza and pasta sauces taste so much better, they’re also loved by all species of bumblebees.
Make sure to include a good mix of their favourites which include: oregano, lemon balm, rosemary, fennel, dill, chives, parsley, thyme and sage.
9. Make a Home For Solitary Bees
Most shops now sell ready-made ‘bee hotels’ that can be hung on fences, sheds or trees in your garden. You can also use a block of wood with some holes drilled into it, an upturned plant pot, or use hollow canes like bamboo to provide shelter for solitary bees.
10. Spread The Word
Not everyone is fully aware of what risks our bees are facing, so let’s spread the word and educate our friends and family. Sharing this article to your Facebook or Twitter feed is a great way to start, and other sites like National Trust Scotland, Country Living and The English Garden all have great tips and articles about how to save the bees too.