Albert Einstein apparently said that humanity would die out in four years without them. A terrifying thought, isn’t it? But he was almost certainly right. Bees, the most important pollinating insects, are crucial to the entire ecosystem. Agriculture – and therefore our food supply – depends on them, so no wonder their recent dramatic decline has become a cause for global concern.
So what’s responsible? Habitat loss, pesticides and disease. Also, our recent poor summers have accelerated this manmade decline. In 2008 alone a third of all bee colonies in the UK were wiped out. One third.
It’s pretty clear, then, that bee consciousness is vital. We all need to put out the welcome mat.
The simplest way to do this is to plant bee-friendly plants and flowers to encourage bees into our gardens and neighbourhoods. If you don’t have a garden, a windowbox or a hanging basket by the front door will do nicely. It’s amazing how much you can squash into them!
We should also reduce the use of pesticides in our gardens, by companion planting, using other green methods and products, and encouraging beneficial insects and other creatures. (If on the odd occasion pesticides are unavoidable, it’s best to apply them in late evening, when bees are less active.)
Installing bee houses (bamboo for solitary bees, or boxes for social bees) is also helpful – google to see where to buy or how to make your own.
Those of us with adequate space can set up a hive or two to help the honeybee. You don’t need to live in the country to do this – all you need is the right conditions. And think of all that free honey – one hive can produce up to fifty jars in a season! And if you don’t have space, why not adopt a hive?
I hope I’ve convinced you that all of us can do something positive to halt the bees’ decline, and also have fun in the process. After all, what could be nicer than relaxing in the garden amid the soporific buzzing of bees – all busy wiping their smelly feet on your welcome mat.
© Rosie Rose
(The Bees wrist key fob in the above photo is available here.)