Bees have been getting quite a lot of ‘air-time’ of late, but for all the wrong reasons. They are in danger.
Bee populations are declining
Since 2010, there has been a 45% decline in the number of commercial honey bees. Pesticides play a large part, but agricultural techniques have changed too over the decades, with an emphasis on increasing productivity which has meant a loss of the bees’ natural habitat as wildflowers have disappeared from our countryside. It has been estimated that we have lost 97% of our flower-rich grassland since the 1930s.
Just why is this so important?
Bees are the world’s most important pollinator of food crops. It’s estimated that one third of the food we consume each day relies on pollination, mainly by bees. These crops include, vegetables, rapeseed and sunflowers as well as cocoa beans, tea and coffee. Crops used to feed livestock also rely on that same pollination.
It’s not just food crops that the bees play a huge part in, cotton crops rely on bee pollination too. The annual global cotton crop is estimated to be worth $170bn.
So what can we do about it?
On an individual level you can include bee friendly planting into your own garden, balcony or window boxes. In the UK alone, domestic gardens cover over one million acres.
- Think about adding bee boxes for them to nest.
- Bees love flowering plants which are rich in pollen and nectar.
- Lavender is an easy to care for option that bees love.
- Avoid using pesticides, especially ‘bug killing’ sprays.
Wildflowers are important for bees, so why not allow a space in your garden to let things run a little wild, and encourage bees and other insects for flourish?
At Planteria we use flowering bedding plants for our client’s outside spaces, and we are fans of including lavender for its attractive colour and fragrance as well as its bee-friendly factor. We also grow sedum for green roofs, the bee’s just can’t resist it, so it makes a perfect green roof for city locations which are so often lacking in natural bee habitats.
Go to http://bumblebeeconservation.org/about-bees/why-bees-need-help/ for more information and to find out what else you can do.