Bees need our help because of changes in agricultural techniques which has resulted in there being far fewer wildflowers in the countryside, meaning that a large number of our bumble species are fighting to survive.
It is common knowledge that bumblebees are great pollinators and play a major role in producing the food that we eat. Bees pollinate many commercial crops such as peas, apples, and strawberries, but if the bee decline continues we would have little option but to pollinate these plants artificially thus increasing the cost of fruit and vegetables.
There is often confusion about bumblebees and honeybees – so what is the difference?
Here in the UK, we have around 25 different species of bumblebee; they have a fat and furry appearance and feed on different shaped flowers; they live in a nest with somewhere between 50 – 400 bees and only the queen hibernates in a hole in the ground and lives for just a single year.
Honeybees, however, are small and slim in appearance almost like a wasp, but much more friendly, and there are only one species of Honeybee in Europe. They live in hives with between 20,000 and 60,000 bees. The queen honey bee can live for three to four years.
Luckily, there is much that can be done to help bumblebees in our local areas:
You do not have to have a big garden, something as small as a window box can attract bumblebees.
Bees are attracted to shades of purple, blue and yellow and so our native species like Buddleia and Chives are perfect for planting in your own garden.
As for the saying, “as busy as a bee”. It’s hard not to admire their work ethics at this time of year as they buzz hurridly on the clover that’s growing in the lawn. At this time of year, clover grows fast and it’s a kind gesture to leave a little of it growing for the bees rather than cut it completely away when you’re next grooming the lawn. An island of clover left growing will soon host a squadron of busy bees and you can sit back and relax and admire them whilst rewarding yourself with a fresh cup of tea for supporting the bees – for being bee-friendly.