When faced with a small buzzing insect many of us (and this includes me) are often a bit clueless. Reactions vary from outright fear to mild curiosity as immortalised by Ab-Fab’s Patsy Stone.
We tend to think of bees as a single thing but you’d be amazed to learn there are more than 260 species of them in the UK! Pretty amazing, considering we only have 30 native land mammals and 17 native bat species. But they’re in trouble. Three have already gone extinct, and another 47 are listed as threatened species.
Why we should care about bees?
No bees? No strawberries. No apples, no honey, tomatoes, runner beans, pears, peaches… the list is long and varied – about a third of our food depends directly on pollination by bees. They’re under threat – from pesticides, from habitat loss, from pollution. We need them, and yet we’re killing them off at an alarming rate.
What can I do to help?
Take part in the Great British Bee Count – which will help build a better picture of how bees are faring, and help us to understand how better help them. There’s even a nifty app for your smartphone or tablet.
Plant bee-friendly flowers – these tend to be single (as opposed to double) flowers, especially open, daisy type flowers like sunflowers. Lavender, clover, petunias, comfrey, fennel and Verbena bonariensis are all great too.
Build a bee hotel – see my previous blog.
And finally – steer clear of chemical insecticides. If it’s designed to kill insects, it’s generally not going to do our friendly, vital bees any good at all.