Bees are very important to us for many reasons:
- One third of the food we eat would probably not be available without the help of bees!
- Bees also pollinate the flowers of many plants which become part of the feed for farm animals!
- Bees make yummy honey and honeycomb, which some people eat!
- As well as for eating, honey is used in many crafts like making candles, manufacturing and in medicine!
In the UK there are about 270 different species of bee and the two most well known are the Bumble Bee and the Honey Bee.
But something is happening to bees…
Bees are in danger of disappearing from our environment.
Farming practices continue to disturb the natural habitats and forage of solitary and bumblebees at a rate which gives them little chance for re-establishment.
The honeybee is also under attack from the ‘varroa mite’ and it is only treatment and care provided by beekeepers that is keeping bee colonies alive. Most wild honeybee colonies have died out as a result of this disease.
Colony collapse disorder is another phenomenon that occurs when the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear and leave behind the queen.
In the six years leading up to 2013, more than 10 million beehives were lost, nearly twice the normal amount!
The following short film explains more about what is happening to bees in the UK, including information on their recent decline and the potential causes of this decline.
What can I do to save the bees?
The good news is that we can all do little things to help save bees.
Plant wildflower seeds – Brighten up your garden by planting wildflower seeds to provide essential nutrition for bees. Bees are more attracted to certain types of flowers.
Create shelter – Allow a patch of grass to grow long to provide bees with shelter from the rain.
Provide water – Provide water for bees to drink – this can be as simple as a shallow edged dish of water. Add some pebbles to help the bees climb out.
Avoid pesticides – Reduce the use of pesticides in your garden.
Protect swarms – If you see a swarm of bees, best go indoors and contact your local beekeeping association to collect the swarm.