How long can we live without bees?
If you’ve read much news online lately you’ve probably noticed increasing concern from scientists and environmentalists about a dwindling bee population, thought to be due to industrial insecticides. Of course, bees aren’t just lovely; they’re essential, as their pollinating skillz are fundamental to the earth’s ecosystem. Albert Einstein predicted that if bees became extinct, humans would also be extinct within four years. No pressure, then. With that in mind, here are 10 simple things we can do in our homes and gardens to create a friendly habitat that will help bolster the bee population.
What you can do...
1. Bee friendly plants
Attract bees into your garden with plants they love such as geraniums, roses, hollyhocks, clematis, and lavender; and flowering herbs, such as chives, thyme, mint, and borage. Wild flowers, native to the UK, are ideal. You won’t notice loads of bees on them in autumn and winter, as most bee varieties are hibernating (though honey bees are still about, buzzing and pollinating)
2. Water features
Bees need to drink too, and shallow, calm water works best. This is important during dry periods in summer.
3. Buy a bee hotel
Fun to make with bamboo, but you can also buy them if you’re short on time, or like me, not good with wood and screwdrivers.
4. Buy organic
It’s pretty much a no-brainer that buying organic and supporting the organic farming industry will decrease the amount of chemical insecticide in use.
5. Don't use chemical insecticides
There are many organic, bee friendly ways to keep pests off the garden. Neem oil/tea is an amazing slug and insect repellent, and beer traps deal with slugs and snails.
6. The right-shaped flowers (part 1)
Avoid flower shapes that bees can’t get into, including flowers with tightly packed heads or long tube-like heads.
7. The right-shaped flowers (part 2)
Avoid flowers that don’t have much pollen or nectar – examples include double begonias and pansies. Again, choosing the right-shaped flowers is made easy by sticking to native UK wild flower varieties.
8. Teach children to respect bee nests
If children are lucky enough to see a wild bees’ nest, they need to know to keep a respectful distance and not touch, for both their and the bees’ safety.
9. Cultivate clover
Use your lawnmower on the longest setting to avoid cutting clover, which bees love.
10. Don't be too tidy
Things like rotting wood, cracks in walls, and old mouse nests are all things that bees use as nests.