Bees are the most important pollinator in our ecosystem. One-third of our food supply and 90% of our wildflowers are dependent on the work these animals do, but the loss of habitat and the increased use of pesticides have seen populations decline in recent years. 32% of bee species in the U.K are in decline or threatened and 40% of U.S beekeepers have reported a drop in numbers. Losing any of the UK’S 250 species would have a knock-on effect across the food chain, so it is important to give them as much help as we can. This guide has some great tips on how you can create a garden that is great for bee conservation.
What can I do to help?
It can sometimes feel like there is nothing you can do to have an impact on large scale problems like this, but there are some simple and easy steps that can help to sustain your local bee populations.
Plant Native Wildflowers
Native plants are generally easier to grow because they are already acclimatised to the climate. They are also the plants that your local bees have evolved to pollinate. Having a good variety of native plants is the key to good nutrition in your local bee population and it also encourages them to pollinate the area around your garden, making all the gardens around you healthier and livelier. Native plant seeds can sometimes be found at local farm shops or you can look online for specially selected selections of meadow seeds or specific species seed packs
Let Your Lawn Grow Naturally
A bee’s natural habitat is a wild meadow, and some of their favourite plants to pollinate are dandelions and clover, but these don’t grow on well-manicured lawns. Consider letting a portion of your lawn grow naturally – You’ll spend less time mowing, the bees will love it and you might just end up bringing more wildlife into your garden.
Avoid Chemical Pesticides and Herbicides
The chemicals in many pesticides and herbicides are harmful to bees, and the rise of commercial food production has had a big impact on their welfare. Avoiding the use of chemical pest control in your own garden can have a big effect on the bee population in your area. Consider using some natural options like a homemade soap and oil spray
Leave Water Out
Bee’s get thirsty too, so leaving out water will be a massive help for them. Put out some small bowls of water with pebbles in for them drink from will have them visiting your garden more often, pollinating more and helping your garden.
Don’t Put Honey or Sugar Water Out
It’s a common belief that you can help by leaving out sugar water or honey for bees, but by doing this you may be inadvertently harming them. Bees are very food at finding what they need to survive, and if they find an easy source of food they will go to it more often and in bigger numbers. Unfortunately, these food sources don’t provide much nutrition and can end up being the source of disease in a hive. The best food you can give a bee is a garden full of flowers
Build a Bee Hotel
When we think of bees we often think of a thriving hive. But, of the 270 species of bee in the U.K, only twenty live in hives, the rest are solitary. These bees tend to nest in small enclosed areas. You can buy a pre-made habitat for them or if you want to be a bit more hands-on you can build your own bee hotel. It’s easy to do and is a big help to wild populations.
Helping our pollinators is really important for the health of the natural world around us, and there are a lot of small things you can do in your garden that can have a big impact in overall bee conservation.
Gary works in the Primrose product loading team, writing product descriptions and other copy. With seven years as a professional chef under his belt, he can usually be found experimenting in the kitchen or sat reading a book.