It is a well known fact that the first sight of bees means that spring is officially in the air. However, many people don’t realise that bees pollinate a third of all the food we eat. Even coffee, chocolate and hamburgers – a few of life’s luxuries, would not exist if it was not for bees. Imagine Walthamstow’s pubs without any beer, wine or even food? Now that is something none of us want to experience in our lifetime. With the bee population in steep decline due to the harsh pesticides being used on crops and the destructive varroa mite, it is more important than ever that action is taken to save the honey bee. Whilst you don’t have to rush out and invest in a beehive in order to save the bees, small changes can be made regardless of the size of your outdoor space.
Like all living creatures, bees require water in order to survive. In fact, honey, the most popular product of bee keeping, is originally 80% water and 20% sugar before the bees work their magic and convert it into the rich golden liquid we spread on toast in the mornings. By creating easily accessible drinking areas, bees are able to stay hydrated and maintain a cool temperature within the hive.
By planting flowers and flowering shrubs, bees are able to easily extract the nectar and pollen which they take back to the hive to use as food. Plants with single blooms such as roses, lavender and clematis are better for bees as they tend to contain more pollen and nectar than complex blooms. The full list of bee friendly plants have been listed by the British Bee Keeping Association and with a 30cm2 area able to provide a thriving habitat for bees, there really are no excuses. Everyone can plant some seeds, be it in a window box or a whole boarder full and now many seed packets even tell you if they are bee friendly or not.
By minimising your use of pesticides on your plants, you will attract more bees to your garden and it will ensure that the pesticides will not get ingested by the bee whilst they are feeding on the pollen. The pesticides can disorientate the bee and can even lead to death depending on the pesticides used.
By hanging a bee house in your garden, you are providing a place for bees to lay their eggs. There are over 250 varieties of bees in the UK and only one variety of honey bee. Bumble bees lay their eggs in small holes in tree trunks or in the ground so the small holes in the bee house are the perfect place for a bee to store pollen and lay eggs in.
Words and Featured Image: Grace Molan