Arriving uninvited to picnics and building nests within our homes, bees often get a bad rep and can be seen as nothing more than a nuisance. But, in reality, they’re the opposite. These flying insects play a crucial role in keeping our planet healthy, pollinating the food we eat and the trees and flowers other animals call home. They’re an integral part of many ecosystems and our world would look very different without them. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons (including loss of habitat, use of toxic pesticides and climate change), bees are in rapid decline. So, this World Bee Day, we want to focus on how to help protect our furry winged friends, so that they’ll be buzzing around our picnics for generations to come. Here are 5 ways to get you started…
Create a bee-friendly garden
Not only do they make a pretty addition to the garden, flowers give bees access to pollen and nectar, which they need for food and, in the case of nectar, to make honey. So, go wild and plant flowers to your heart’s content throughout your garden. A few flowers, in particular, that bees love include lavender, primrose and alliums. To go one step further, you could also create a bug hotel, like this one we made for Gloucestershire Hospitals earlier this year. These are easy to make and provide great shelter for all sorts of insects, including bees.
Give them a drink
If you come across a bee that looks like it’s resting or lacking in energy, contrary to popular belief, the best thing to do isn’t to provide it with a bowl of sugar water. While helpful in small doses, sugar water is the bees’ equivalent to junk food and, leaving it out can lead to all sorts of problems, from enticing the whole hive to your garden to contaminating honey. So, instead, leave a shallow container of water out in the garden for them to drink from and, if you do come across a tired-looking bee, try carefully picking it up and putting it onto a flower.
Buy sustainable honey
When looking to buy honey, do your research and look into local beekeepers, who use ethical beekeeping methods and are certified organic. Doing so, you’ll know your honey has been made sustainably, in a way that puts bees first and doesn’t harm them in any way. Choosing local also means you’ll avoid racking up air miles and will help cut down on carbon emissions – another big plus for the planet.
Let the grass grow
If you’re in need of an excuse not to cut the grass, here’s your trump card. Keep it long for the bees! Yes, really. Research has shown that bees love long grass (for a period anyway). A recent study found that mowing a lawn once a fortnight, instead of every week, increased the number of bees by 30%. This is because, by delaying, more weed flowers are able to bloom, providing more resource for the bees.
Buzz about it!
Finally, keep doing what you’re doing – keep reading up on bees and how best to protect them, keep celebrating World Bee Day, and keep sharing what you learn!