Most of our food supply depends on bees, yet populations are collapsing and some species are going extinct with more under threat of extinction – here are our tips on how to help save bees.
Bees are most commonly known for honey, but the intelligent creatures are also behind most of the food we love to eat like fresh fruit, veggies, chocolate or even coffee as well as some of our favourite threads like cotton. Albert Einstein famously said that “if the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, man would only have four years left to live,” but why exactly are bees important?
Bees are crucial for the pollination of plants, as they transfer pollen from one flower to another therefore fertilising them. Many of the world’s food crops depend on bees to pollinate them as they are incredibly hard workers collecting about 20kg of pollen every year, which is more than any other insect. It is estimated that without bees it would cost UK farmers £1.8billion a year to pollinate crops manually making the black and yellow striped insect pivotal for our food supply.
Sadly, bee populations are having a hard time with 13 species going extinct since 1900 in the UK alone, and a further 35 considered under threat of extinction. The main threats to bees are habitat loss, pesticides and climate change. It’s vital that bees have enough flowers to pollinate and a safe space to nest, which is why intensive farming and the growth of urban landscapes is threatening their existence. As the current weather in the UK is proving, seasons are shifting and therefore disrupting mating and nesting behaviours, and determining when flowers bloom which could be at a different time to when bees are active affecting their whole food supply and raison d’être. Pesticides are bad – we all know it – but the chemicals are particularly harmful to bees as their toxic properties can affect their nervous system or even harm the insects ability to reproduce
So, how do you help save bees?
Plant bee-friendly flowers
As wildflowers are in decline and bees depend on them for survival, get a Wildflower seedball tin which contains bee-friendly flowers that are native to the UK. To grow them you can simply scatter them on top of soil or compost. Another easy way to support bees if you have a garden is to let it grow free and cut the grass less often.
Natural beauty brand Burt’s Bees also started a #BringBackTheBees campaign that sees 5,000 bee-friendly wildflowers seeds planted in partnership with the British Bee Keepers Association with each BBTB Strawberry lip balm sold.
Start a bee hotel
If you have a garden, laying out a Bee Brick™ is a great way to help solitary bees with nesting – and if you have children playing in the garden, there is no need to worry, solitary bees don’t sting. Similar to the Brick, you can also hang a bee log from a tree for bees to hibernate and nest in.
Another easy way to help bees out is to avoid pesticides by buying organic fruit and veg as well as opting for organic cotton and similar fabrics that don’t make use of toxic chemicals. If you have your own vegetable garden, try swapping commercially available pesticides for natural, home-made ones that will be easier on the bee population.
Spread the word
Although bees play such an important role in our lives, we often don’t know how threatened they are or how to help them. Spread the word by wearing a statement T-shirt that gives back to animal rescue organisation like Wholesome Culture’s ‘Plant These, Save The Bees’ T-shirt or Katharine Hamnett’s ‘Save The Bees’ shirt available on MATCHESFASHION.COM.
Become a Beekeeper
Now this might not be an option for everyone, but if you are dreaming about becoming a master beekeeper and are unsure about where to start, the British Beekeeper Association offers courses to help you gain all the knowledge you need to have your own hives.
In the mood to plant more than wildflowers this weekend? Read our guide on growing your own edible garden.