6 Ways to Help Save the Bees
While they may be small, bees do a big job which is critical for our planet.
Just as we need trees to filter our air, bees are essential to pollinate both plants and flowers, including those that provide the food necessary to live.
The Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations says that about 80% of all flowering plants are specialised for pollination by animals, mostly insects like the bee.
How to help bees
The bee population has been in worldwide decline over the past few years. They face many modern dangers, including toxic pesticides and fewer places to forage and find shelter.
Fortunately, there has been a lot of momentum in both conservation and education regarding bee protection. We’ve put together some easy ways to lend hard-working bees a helping hand so that you can make sure you're doing your bit, too.
1. Plant a Bee Garden
According to the Woodland Trust, there are more than 250 species of bees in the UK.
If you want to help save them, planting a bee garden is one of the best things you can do. Our outdoor spaces can provide shelter and food for struggling bees throughout the year.
A bee garden should offer both nectar and pollen, and certain flowers are more appealing to bees than others.
A single bee colony can pollinate 300 million flowers each day. Choose to grow plants that are higher in both nectar & pollen.
Nectar – This is essentially sugar water for bees, it gives them the energy they need. Nearly all pollinators need nectar to survive.
Pollen – Bees gather this to feed their young, they need it to grow and thrive.
Some plants in the south of Britain can flower year-round, while the quality of nectar and pollen varies from flower to flower.
Top 10 flowers for bees in the UK
Here are some of our favourite flowers to plant in your garden to encourage the bees:
2. Leave the leaves
While it’s tempting to rake your garden and remove the leaves from your beds, these are important habitats for overwintering pollinators.
Leaves are a natural fertiliser that break down over winter and spring, so consider leaving them where they fall or keep a pile as a habitat for bees and butterflies.
How to help bees in your backyard
Lawn weeds such as dandelions are a bee’s best friend. Rich in both pollen and nectar, they provide an excellent first meal in the spring.
While it may be tempting to remove them, if you want to save the bees, it’s time to look at the familiar dandelion in a new light.
"If dandelions were rare, people would be fighting over them. Because they're common, people pull them out and spray them off and all sorts of horrible things. Just let them flower." Says Professor Jane Memmott, an ecologist and entomologist from the University of Bristol.
Herbs are essential for both humans and our animals, and the root of the dandelion can also be used to make dandelion tea.
3. Go chemical-free for bees
One of the biggest threats to bees is the use of toxic pesticides.
While there is no such thing as a pest-free garden, avoid treating your flowers and plants with synthetic fertiliser and pesticides
Instead, we recommend going organic if you can. Composting is a great way to enrich your soil naturally, and a little extra planning from season to season will see your garden thrive naturally.
4. Become a beekeeper
If you’re thinking of keeping bees yourself, contact your local BBKA Association for advice and support.
You’ll need enough space to give them a continual supply of food throughout the spring, summer and autumn, plus a few essentials before you get started:
- A suitable hive
- Protective clothing
- A smoker and fuel
- A hive tool
It’s a good idea to check with your local authorities or beekeeper's association within your region.
5. Buy ethical honey
Choosing to use more healthy, ethical honey which takes into consideration the welfare and well-being of bees and their natural environment.
This means that the honey has been harvested in a way that does not harm or stress the bees, and that the beekeepers use sustainable and environmentally-friendly practices.
Doing your research and buying honey from local beekeepers also helps support their businesses and provide a home for bees in your area.
6. Adopt a beehive or sponsor a charity
Adopt a beehive and help prevent the decline of the native honeybee population. You can also donate to a charity that helps support bees in the UK and educate friends and family by sharing what you’ve learned.