We are all painfully aware of the plight of the honeybees – and more than ever lately, those of us who love and appreciate the natural world and the amazing and critical role these lovable insects play in our ecosystem, are scratching our heads and wondering just how we can give our bees a fighting chance of survival, and maybe even boost their numbers in some places. Luckily for us – and them – there is a lot we can do to help support bees, from learning about which flowers are best favored by them so that we may plant more, to finding companies who put the bees first and don’t use harmful pesticides that are detrimental to their health.
But for those who do not have gardens, or otherwise cannot plant some sensational flowers to keep our bees buzzing, there is still so much more you can do – and this article touches briefly on some of your options.
Flowers and Plants
Bees love flowers – that’s a given. But some flowers are not very suitable for bees, which require certain features to properly utilize the flowers – wider entrances, for example. Luckily, for those of us not so schooled in the types of plants available, there is a useful online tool that helps determine which plants are the best sources of food for bees, and tells you what time of the year they will provide it. If 150 kinds of flowers aren’t enough for you to sink your teeth into, the Royal Horticultural Society also released a whopping list of 400 plant species that are great for supporting our bee populations.
One wonderful company, Plantables, sell “Bee Bombs” which are full of wildflower seeds native to the area you live in. All you have to do is chuck the bee bomb into surrounding fields, in your garden, or anywhere lacking in foliage – they will sink into the soil over time and disperse their seeds when the conditions are ideal.
Not sure where to start? Check out this awesome website to find your own bee-friendly flowers today!
Our bees need a place to call home if they are to truly thrive and begin building their numbers. One of the most effective ways to look after them is to construct a hive – you do not need to take their honey, in fact leaving it will provide a natural source of food for the insects if the weather is bad and in colder months – but by simply putting a roof over their heads you are giving the queen a place to breed, and the whole hive a safe and secure place to settle.
If a hive isn’t for you, why not create a space for solitary bees or queens who have not yet built a hive to lay their heads? Drill holes into blocks of wood, and bundle hollow bamboo canes together or cardboard straws (kept out of the rain, of course! A nest box is a good place to keep them). Bumblebees have different needs – special houses for them do exist in some garden centres and pet stores, but they seem to rarely take to them, preferring instead the long grasses and tussocks of plant stems found in lawns that aren’t overly-manicured. So to encourage them to stay, leave a patch of your garden untouched – many creatures will be very grateful.
Choosing Bee-Safe Products
It is also a good idea to be wise on what chemicals are harmful to bees and our environment, and what are safe. Neonicotinoid-containing products, in ,particular are very deadly to bees, as even a low amount can kill them. There are over 300 products on the market containing the active chemicals dangerous to bees (such as acetamiprid, clothianidin, dinotefuran, imidacloprid, thiacloprid, and thiamethoxam).
The best methods of pest control would include natural deterrents and repellents, rather than using chemicals to protect your crops or flowers. These will not harm bees, and will also encourage other wildlife into your garden or estate, allowing the regulation and control of other pest species and enriching the ecosystem by introducing natural predators. However, if chemicals must be used, such as at the workplace where you may have no influence on what methods are employed, it is useful to find out which are the least toxic choices.
To learn more about how you can be a friend to bees, check out these resources:
Lead image source: Superzerocool/Wikipedia Commons