What’s a great thing you can do in the spring and summer? Help to save the bees! Here’s how
By Chere Di Boscio
Something amazing happened to me earlier this week.
I had been seeing bees around my flat. Tired, lethargic, fuzzy bumble bees, just lazing around my windows – sometimes even in winter!
Curious about this, I learned that in the urban environment, bees need to fly further than ever to find pollen, and are simply exhausting their little wings looking for it. They’re not getting enough quality pollen to feed on, and are in need of an energy boost.
One way to save the little guys is to mix half a teaspoon of white sugar (NOT honey, which can contain viruses or bacteria that are harmful to different colonies of bees, but not to us. And not brown sugar, which can contain artificial colourings) with a teaspoon full of water, and place droplets of this mixture near the bee to drink.
It seems a strange solution, but I put that theory to the test when I saw yet another burned out little fuzzball by the window. Within seconds of seeing the sugary drink, he stuck out his little tongue (something I’d never seen before!) and started to lap it up. A few seconds later, the formerly wiped-out worker was hovering above the window box, then blasted off, hopefully back to the hive. It worked!
That inspired me: how could I help save more bees?
A quick internet search provided some great tips, which I’d like to share.
How You Can Help To Save The Bees
1. Plant Flowers Everywhere!
This one may seem obvious. But who doesn’t love to see loads of flowers?
You may already have flowers in your garden. But consider amping it up!
Instead of having grass on your lawn and a border of flowers, why not just make a mini-meadow? Ditch the grass and plant wildflowers throughout the whole of your lawn!
Alternatively, if you have a flat roof, consider transforming it into a green roof, covered in flowers. Bonus: this will also help insulate your home.
Even if you don’t have a garden, you can plant flowers in window boxes or in pots on your balcony. Or even do some ‘guerilla gardening’ and plant wildflower seeds at the sides of roads, parking lots and other public places in early springtime. Every little bit helps!
2. Use Natural Pesticides
Many dose their gardens with pesticides to keep unwanted insects at bay. But they fail to understand they these are very harmful to bees, butterflies, and beneficial insects, too!
Pesticide use results in a form of bee epilepsy, which can have a catastrophic impact on breeding.
So, to help save the bees, avoid using toxic pesticides on flowers in bloom. Find safer alternatives. For example? Plant oils and fatty acids will keep pests away without causing harm to bees.
It may be less effective than pesticides, but it’s a small price to pay to help the bees thrive and survive!
3. Plant The Right Kinds of Flowers
One crucial way to help the bees is to plant flowers! People have been using seed bombs to populate empty patches of grass with wildflowers. When choosing the right flowers to plant, opt for plants native to the area you live as these will become a hotspot for pollinators to venture.
The types of flowers you plant should be rich in pollen to suit the needs of a bee. Also, be sure to carefully match the plants to cater to each stage of a bee’s lifecycle.
Here’s an example guide:
Spring: Plant bluebells, viburnum and daffodils
Early summer: Gernaniums, campanulas and aquilegias
Late summer: Lavender, fuchsias and heather
Photo: Instagram @wildflowermagazine.
4. Make A Bee Box
A super easy way to help save more of the bees in your own garden is to build them a home. Bees have lost much of their natural habitat over the last 60 years, including a saddening 97% of wildflower rich meadows, sob! Factor in pesticides and intensive farming, they’re in need of bee-friendly spaces to stop off.
A bee box is the perfect place for queen bees to stop off during colder weather. There are several ways to make these. For a DIY garden version, you’ll need:
– A flower pot
– Nesting materials
– A larger slate stone
– Hose pipe
– Chicken wire
1. Start by cutting your chicken wire to almost cover the mouth of the pot bending the corners down so it fits inside.
2. Use nails or a sharp object to pierce 4-5 holes in the hosepipe.
3. Dig a shallow trench for the bee pot, placing the hose pipe holes face down inside.
4. Place your chicken wire into the trench, placing your nesting materials over the top.
5. Place your upturned pot over the wire and nesting materials and push gently into the ground.
6. Bury the exposed hose pipe with soil, leaving only the end open for easy access.
7. Place small stones atop the bee pot, and cover it with a larger piece of slate or bathroom tile.
8. Wait for the bee to visit and take refuge in this welcome abode.
Photo: Instagram @greenandblueuk.
5. Buy Organic Produce
As always, we vote for the kind of world we want to live in every time we spend money. Use your buying power to support local and organic farmers. When shopping for produce, buy organic as much as possible! Organic farming standards help to save more bees. That’s because they prohibit the use of synthetic pesticides which are extremely toxic to bees and even damaging to the environment.
Conventional agriculture uses synthetic treatment chemicals such as neonicotinoids, which are damaging and toxic. This toxic pesticide was banned until 2013, but the ban has recently been suspended and can be used for 120 days of the year.
Pesticides aside, the demand for food has caused agriculture to intensify, which has had a knock-on effect to the habitat of bees. In the UK alone, 97% of wildflower meadows where bees were once found have been removed since 1945.
6. Know How To Help A Bee In Distress
As mentioned above, bees can suffer from exhaustion. Flowers are farther and farther apart, so they need to look harder for food.
So another way to help save more bees is to help tired bees.
I will repeat how here.
If you see a bee that seems tired, or who has been trying to leave your house but then gave up, do this:
- Mix half a teaspoon of white sugar (NOT honey, which can contain viruses or bacteria that are harmful to different colonies of bees. And not brown sugar, which can contain artificial colourings) with a teaspoon full of water, and place droplets of this mixture near the bee to drink.
7. Help To Educate!
Finally, to how to help save more bees, please share this post and the information contained in it! The more we know, the more we can do to save the bees. Even more info to share is here, below!