Bee a friend to incredible insects
Honeybees have been on earth for about 25 million years. They lead fascinating lives, cleverly adapted for highly specialised jobs and contributing to a complex collective enterprise. They can navigate using the position of the sun and communicate by dancing to show fellow bees the route to sources of food, water or nesting sites. We should all be impressed by bees.
This beautiful insect provides far more than the honey for your breakfast table and, as the world’s most important pollinator of food crops, they are responsible for about a third of all the food that we eat. Yet in recent years bees have been in dramatic decline, with some British species already extinct. Industrialisation of agriculture, pesticides, imported parasites, climate change and habitat destruction are some of the challenges that bee colonies face and though environmental organisations have been working to encourage action to improve this bleak picture, there will have to be a rapid change in human behaviour to prevent this incredible insect facing destruction.
It’s a global situation, but it’s important to remember that small, local action can have a positive impact. Buy local honey, not only will it be tastier and have the flavour of local flora but your purchase will support British bee keepers working hard to ensure that bees survive and thrive. If you have a garden leave the mower in the shed and allow grassy patches to grow- bees adore clover and dandelions and will appreciate a patch of long grass to shelter. Hedges and rotting wood will also provide ideal habitats for resting or overwintering bees. Stopping using pesticides will benefit your entire garden. Insecticides have a negative impact on beneficial insects, bird life and small mammals.
No matter how small your outdoor space, even if you only have a windowsill, you can grow nectar-rich plants which bees will adore. Scattering wildflower seed will recreate the natural wildflower meadows which have been virtually wiped out. Planting purple flowers is wise, because bees see this better than any other colour. Try to ensure that you choose plants with a range of flowering periods to ensure there is food available for bees from spring through to autumn.