Save the Bees!
Let's create a more bee friendly Britain!
Save the Bees Resources:
Free bee-saving flower seeds: Click here
Flower seeds grow guide: Click here
Save the Bees teaching guide: Click here
We’re all familiar with the sight of bees buzzing around flowers on a hot summers day. But if you think you see less today than you did when you were younger, then it's not just your imagination!
Unfortunately, our bee populations around the world have been shrinking. It's a sad fact that the bee population in Britain has been in a serious decline for the last fifty years.
Thirteen types of bees have become extinct in the UK over the past twenty years and a further 10% of wild bee species are in danger of disappearing forever over the next five years unless action is taken...
Why are bees dying out?
There are a number of reasons for the ongoing decline in bee populations, but the main causes are;
- use of pesticides and insecticides,
- the loss of natural bee-friendly habitats; and
- the Varroa Mite (which is an external parasite that attacks and feeds on honey bees)
Pesticides and insecticides
Intensive crop farming has increased significantly around the world over the last 50 years, and pesticides have played a key part in this. Pesticides are chemicals sprayed onto food crops by farmers to kill insects which can eat or damage the crops. Because pesticides are so effective they are widely used all across the UK and the rest of the developed world.
However, many of these pesticides are not only effective in killing 'pests' that damaged food crops... they are also highly toxic to bees. Bees will often land on a farmers crops as they go about their daily work foraging for nectar. If that crop has been sprayed with a pesticide the chemicals could kill the bee immediately, or even worse, cover the bee causing it to lose its sense of direction and ability to fly.
Some bees will survive long enough to return to their hive, although the damage has been done already. Bees that have been exposed to pesticides in this way will often become less resistant to disease and unable to breed successfully. This can make a big impact on the ongoing health and survival of the whole bee colony.
A specific class of neuro-active insecticides known as Neonicotinoids, which are chemically similar to nicotine, are particularly harmful to bees. This chemical attacks the central nervous system of bees and other small insects which come into contact with it causing them to be paralysed and eventually die.
Thankfully after many years of campaigning the use of Neonicotinoids was banned in the European Union and the UK in April 2018 in order to help protect our important local bee species. There are however still many other pesticides and chemicals which are highly toxic to bees that are still used every day. We must continue to push for change in these areas of regulation to keep the bee population we have as safe as possible from pesticide harm.
Loss of natural habitat
The countryside is the bees natural habitat, it provides a wide variety of foods and shelter for bees. Unfortunately more and more countryside and natural landscape has been lost to urban development and industrial farming methods. Friends of the Earth have reported that since the Second World War, the UK has lost a staggering 97% of our wildflower meadows!
It would be foolish to not recognise the damaging impact this is having on our bees. Just like us, bees need a varied diet to stay strong and healthy. They also need protection against Britain's highly variable weather conditions and natural predators. Imagine all the hiding places a small bee can shelter in a natural wildflower meadow; in trees, hedges, the soil. Now compare that to an urbanised, busy city centre!
Not only is the loss of habitat incredibly harmful to bees, the knock on effect is damaging to our countryside too as we need the bees to pollinate plants such as clovers and foxglove that almost solely rely on bees for their pollination. It's a vicious circle, or more accurately perhaps a downwards spiral. The bees need the countryside and our countryside needs the bees!
The Varroa Mite
Varroa mites are parasites, tiny creatures that can get inside a beehive and attach themselves to a bee. If your dog or cat has ever had fleas you know what external parasites are. While fleas are annoying and irritating for your pet, until you get them treated, the Varroa Mite can have very severe consequences for a bee colony. The mite lives off the bees body fats, taking nutrients and destroying the bees energy, leaving it weak and sick. As the mite moves from bee to bee, it can also rapidly spread other diseases across an entire bee colony. The result of this is that an entire colony of bees can be entirely destroyed by a Varroa Mite outbreak in just a matter of months.
Why are bees important?
But why do we need bees? You might be forgiven for thinking that we only care here at Just Bee because we want to sell you honey! But the truth is that as well as being beekeepers and honey producers, we also have a genuine mission to be guardians, champions and protectors of Britain's bees. Not just because of the honey they produce but for the good of the whole planet and our very existence too!
The great physicist Albert Einstein stated:
“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man."
That statement is a lot easier to understand than the theory of relativity, but no less important to how we need to understand the world we live in. Bees are a vital part of our world as we know it!
One of the most important jobs for a bee is to make enough honey in the summer for the bee colony to feed off and survive the winter. Bees make honey by collecting nectar from flowers but as they do this, they are also performing another essential role in nature, pollinating the flowers they are visiting. Bees are exceptionally good at pollinating because of the huge number of flowers they visit every single day. Every wondered where the phrase “busy bee” comes from? It is estimated that a single bee can visit over 5,000 flowers in one day. Bees are one of the hardest working and busiest creatures on the planet!
Without pollination, flowers and many food crops would not be able to reproduce or grow. It is estimated that one in three mouthfuls of food we eat rely on bees for their pollination. That may or may not be entirely accurate but our reliance of crops that require bee pollination is growing all the time, so in the not too distance future it could be even more than that. The increase in vegan substitute milk products like almond 'milk' are a perfect example of this. Literally billions of bees are needed to pollinate the blossoms on the almond trees. With the global population getting larger each year, food supplies are already under pressure and without the bees it would quickly become a crisis.
It’s not only the human food supply that it would spell disaster for. Flowers and crops provide food and shelter for other animals in the food chain. Without bees and their incredible pollination skills, whole environmental ecosystems would completely collapse. As cotton plants are another crop that rely on pollination by bees, if bees became extinct, we would be hungry and probably cold too!
We realise that we are painting a very bleak and sad picture here, but we must not despair, thankfully there is hope and there are small, simple things we can all do to help get our local bee populations back on an upwards curve all across the UK!
How to help Save the Bees
At Just Bee it's our mission to reverse the decline in the British Bee population and we are asking for your help!
With every order on our website we'll put a free packet of wildflower seeds in your box. These seeds are a special mix of bee-friendly flowers that provide bees with much needed food and shelter. They can be planted anywhere, in your garden, a small pot or window box or even in your local park!
If you aren't ready to make an order yet, we'll send you some for free anyway, all we ask is for 89p to cover the postage and we'll get them out to you right away! Our goal is to have thousands of new bee-friendly flower patches all over the UK every year.
Claim your free bee-friendly flower seeds
Want some free seeds to help Save the Bees? Click here to get yours.
If you have a garden let your grass grow a little longer in the summer before mowing the lawn. Mowing lawns less often can boost lawn flower production by as much as 2.5 times! If left for a few weeks it will allow grass to develop flower heads, which will attract bees. The longer grass will also improve moisture retention, which is beneficial to both the grass and the bees. If you must have a short and neat lawn, consider leaving a smaller dedicated part of the lawn to create a habitat that bees will flock to.
If we can all avoid using pesticides and insecticides that will help too, we can't just put pressure on farmers and commercial growers to do their bit without acting ourselves. Keep your garden as bee friendly as possible by avoiding any chemicals, pesticides and weedkillers.
“To make a prairie it takes a clover and one honeybee.” - Emily Dickinson (Poet)
With your help we can create bee-friendly 'mini prairies' all across Britain.
Get your FREE bee-saving flower seeds from Just Bee here!