How can we help save bees?
There are really only two answers to the question how we can help save the bees; What we can do personally, as individuals, and what we can do collectively around the world.
There is some cross-over between the two answers, but it's understandable to feel that some of the bigger challenges are out of our hands. Thankfully there are others that do brilliant work on our behalf. Organisations such as The British Beekeepers Association, The Bumblebee Conservation Trust and charities like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth all do invaluable work in this area. We'll include some links at the end of this blog for you to check out.
Small acts can make a big difference!
On an individual level it's often very difficult to make an impact on something happening on the other side of the world or behind government doors, but there are small things we can all do to help save the bees in our local area.
Let your grass grow a little longer
If you have a garden then letting your grass grow longer before cutting can double lawn flower production. A lawn full of daisies and buttercups can look just as beautiful as shortly cropped grass and seeds are inexpensive and easily available. Kids will love making daisy-chains in the summer! You can even let your grass grow so it develops its own flower heads, which can happen in just a few weeks. If you really want a short lawn then you could leave a small space to create a more bee-friendly area.
Avoid using pesticides and insecticides in your garden
We can also avoid using pesticides and insecticides as it will make a difference. If we want our gardens to be bee-friendly, then we need to make them as natural as possible. Chemicals, pesticides and weedkillers can be really dangerous to our buzzy friends and in almost all cases are not needed in our gardens. Farmers and commercial growers use them to make sure they get the maximum profit and yields from crops. We are not in that position and there is almost always a less harmful alternative, even if that does mean getting on our knees and doing a little weeding from time to time!
It's true that bees will prefer a messy garden but it's perfectly possible for us all to find a balance between a garden we can enjoy being in and one that bees will enjoy being in too. Is there anything more beautiful than a garden filled with wildflowers, buzzing bees and beautiful butterflies though? We don't think there is!
Create a bee-friendly garden
Creating a bee friendly wildflower garden can be extremely fun, easy and rewarding. It can encompass your whole garden, just a small area, a tub on a patio or a hanging basket. We can all do something even if we don't have a garden, you could even start a mini bee garden in one of our empty honey pots! Wildflower seeds are extremely easy to grow and create the perfect environment for bees to both take shelter and collect pollen. Having a variety of flowers is the key to having a successful bee garden. This will ensure a varied menu for visiting bees and you will see different plants flowering at different times during the summer.
If you would like some of our bee-friendly seeds for free, you can find them here! They contain a wide and special selection of seeds that are perfect for our hard working pollinator friends! Of course we always send seeds for free with every pot of honey ordered from our online store. There's no need to ask us for them when you order!
The Bigger Picture
Friends of the Earth state that “The biggest single cause of bee decline is the intensification of farming. This is compounded by the increased use of pesticides, especially neonicotinoids, which is having a devastating impact on wild bees.”
As we already mentioned pesticides are a big threats to bees in the UK, because bees pollinate so many of the crops we use for food, it's important for the bees, and indeed us, that crops are kept free of harmful pesticides. While we can make a difference in our own gardens it's necessary to put pressure on Government bodies to make sure that farming crops are kept safe for bees also.
You can find a petition here by Friends of the Earth addressed to the Environment Secretary that is asking for a commitment to reduce pesticide use in the UK. This is a simple (and free) way you can play a part in helping save the bees outside of your own garden. You could also try writing to your local MP with your concerns and ask them to support any reduction in pesticide use.
The biggest large scale problem however, is the loss of natural habitat. Intensive farming has removed many of the wildflower meadows from our landscapes, as well as hedgerows and natural ponds. These natural habitats are essential for bees to find food and have safe nesting areas. It's a sad fact but we are not only destroying their homes but their whole natural environment. We can't continually cover our meadows with paving stones and concrete and expect no consequences for the wildlife that lives there. We need to build in the best and least damaging way possible. Building on 'green belt' areas is a complicated issue that often seems overwhelming and just a small amount of research online will lead to many (and conflicting) views. However we think it's undeniable that it does and will have an effect on the bee population.
This is an area where local councils are important and many are doing some great work and starting encouraging initiatives. When it comes to your local council elections ask your candidates their views on bees and if they will give you a commitment to providing a healthy environment for them to live in. The seeding of wildflowers along road verges could be one simple and relatively inexpensive action your council could take that would be a big benefit to all pollinators. Get involved, make some enquiries and you might be surprised at the response. An example from Dorset council, who look to be doing a decent job in committing to having a environment that's healthy for bees and other pollinators, can be found here, check your council is doing something too … if it isn't ask them why!
If you would like to do more research here's some handy links, good luck! Don't forget to check out our other regular bee and honey blogs for tips, ideas and information!
Just Bee Honey Blogs: https://justbeehoney.co.uk/blogs/just-bee-honey-blog
British Beekeepers Association: https://www.bbka.org.uk/
Bumblebee Conservation Trust: https://www.bumblebeeconservation.org/
Friends of the Earth: https://friendsoftheearth.uk/bees
The Bee Friendly Trust: https://beefriendlytrust.org/