Bee populations are in trouble – what can you do to help?

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4yearsYou’ve probably heard this rather scary quote before. When I first heard it I felt chills down my spine as we’re getting uncomfortably close to seeing bees off for good. That’s why I started my blog as it seemed like something that I could do.

So why are bees in trouble and what can we do about it?

The three main causes of bee decline are:

  • Loss of habitat and food sources
  • Infestation from mites which pass on diseases
  • Toxicity from certain pesticides.

I’m going to try, over the next few weeks to summarise what I’ve found about each problem faced by bees and what you, and I, can do to help. This links nicely to the other part of my site, (which is still a work in progress – forgive me!) where I’ve categorised bee friendly ideas to help you find ways to help bees that suit your life. Please take a look and give me any feedback or ideas of your own, I’d like as much on there as possible!

As a starting point to my “threats faced by bees” series I am going to explain a bit about loss of food sources. It is thought that as well as habitat loss, bumblebee declines are blamed on the lack of nectar yielding flowers for bees to forage. Not all flowers have value for bees because not all produce nectar and some garden centre plants, which have been bred for certain characteristics, may not be fertile and as such not produce pollen. However, the main reason so many flowering plants have been lost is due to the move in agriculture towards intensive farming of one crop type e.g. the creation of monocultures. If you don’t know what I mean by monoculture then think back, have you seen the bright yellow fields of Oil Seed Rape around at the moment? Farms used to be much more diverse places that were extensively managed, imagine romantic pictures of wildflower meadows! Nowadays only the desired crop is tolerated (to make as much money as possible) and technology and pesticides have helped farmers achieve vast swathes of land dedicated to one crop type. I’m not trying to blame farmers by the way, supermarket culture and the consumer drive towards cheaper and cheaper prices places huge pressure on farmers to produce cheap crops.

We can help bumblebees by favouring produce from extensively managed, organic farms where possible. It also helps to plant a range of bumblebee friendly flowers in your window box/ yard/ garden, especially if you can plant a large amount of one plant together, as bees forage for one type of nectar at a time. My next project is to create a list of bee friendly flowers organised by the month to sow and month of flowering to help you create a year long bee friendly flower display in your garden. I’m pretty sure that a lovely garden full of beautiful flowers will make you feel happy too!

Apart from all they do for us, it would be such a shame to lose bees. They can teach us a lot about life with their constructive, organised lifestyle although simply watching them is mesmerising and relaxing. The problems faced can seem overwhelming but please don’t let that put you off trying – if everybody came together and did one thing to the benefit of bees it may help turn things around and surely it’s worth a try? Obviously there’s loads of people out there trying to help and if you’re one of them, let us know what you’ve been doing in the comments below. What have you learnt and what are your own suggestions?

I created the images in today’s post, as a way to celebrate the quotes contained in them. Bees are such lovely, industrious creatures there’s loads of brilliant quotes to keep my blog going for ages! Ha! So, for today I thought I’d leave you with this lovely quote I found, which is more positive than the first but equally inspiring!

RayBradburyQuoteP.S. If you want more bee information be sure to watch The Wonder of Bees on BBC IPlayer- there’s only 5 days left! I watched the first one and it was great!

 

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