It’s widely known that our bee population is declining, and with our food supply relying heavily on pollinators, it’s easy to see why this is an issue that is so pressing. Current factors for this point towards agricultural pesticides and loss of habitat due the intensification of farming, yet it’s farmers that benefit greatly from the presence of bees and the free pollination they provide.
Natural pollination by the right type of bee can also improve the overall quality, nutritional value and shelf life of the crop. It would cost the UK £1.8 billion a year to pollinate these crops by hand. Studies have shown that urban bees are now 3x healthier than their countryside counterparts - they store more food and are part of larger colonies.
Since 1900 in the UK, we have lost 11 species of bee and a further 35 are now on the endangered species list. This coincides with the loss of their habitat – 97% of our vital grasslands have been lost within the past 60 years.
Initiatives such as B-Lines Network are combatting the decreasing numbers of pollinators. ‘Insect Pathways’ running through towns and UK countryside will allow for a network of wildflower-rich habitats to link different and larger areas of wildlife across the country.
However, help for British bees can also begin at home. For example:
- Growing a range of simple, open flowers from March to November e.g. crocus, red and white clover.
- Letting dandelions bloom. One of the best flowers for bees.
- Let the grass grow longer, giving pollinators shelter or lifting the cutting blade a few centimetres
- Using climbing plants rather than bare fences and walls, these provide shelter and those that flower and fruit will also provide food for bees and birds.
- Cutting back on the use of pesticides and weed killers.
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