There are around 250 species of bee in the UK, three have become extinct recently and five more are in serious danger of becoming extinct. Bees contribute massive amounts to the economy with Europe's insect pollinators pumping €14.2 billion into the European economy. Of all these insects it is the Honeybees and Bumblebees that do most of the work. Bumblebees are especially important because they pollinate plants other bees won't so some crops and wild flowers are entirely dependant on them.
This makes bees an essential part of our ecosystems. Plants other animals won't pollinate will die and the animals dependant on these plants become vunerable as well, then the animals which eat these ones die and then the ones that eat these ones and so on.
Why are Bees Threatened?
The main reason of their decline is because of the loss of flower rich habitats.
This can be because of many reasons. A change in the metods of farming has hurt them. With the use of machinery whole fields can be plowed in days or even hours so the pollen and nectar rich weeds are gone too quick for the bees to get to. Also to do with farming weed killers and pesticides can kill flowers rich in pollen and nectar and pesticides can actually kill the bees themselves.
Also, years of artificial selection in plants has led to species with vibrant colours but little pollen and nectar. This is why some of the more colourful flowers you see in garden centres may have no scent. These flowers tend to be popular though so more natural flowers that have not gone through a process as described are not being planted in gardens.
There are about one million hectares of garden space in Britain, if it were used to grow bee friendly plants their numbers could really increase.
How to Help Bees and Attract to My Garden
Firstly and most importantly, make your garden safe for bees. Try to have a pesticide and chemical free garden. Instead use pest ridding remedies that are natural like if you have lots of aphids try the most natural solution of all and use ladybugs to eat them and attract these beautiful beetles to your garden. If you find it impossible to find a chemical free solution then try to find bee friendly products and spray only after night fall when pollinators are least active and therefore least likely to come in contact with the sprays.
Secondly, try to plant bee-friendly flowers. These can be attractive and a haven for bees at the same time. There are many different plants that can be called be friendly so if you have a particular colour scheme in your garden there is not need to worry. Try to avoid tampering with this plants if at all possible as a natural bush is far more beneficial to the bees than a bush that has been trimmed so much it has lost half the flowers.
Even a small window box can be great. Just use a vareity of flowers that have lots of nectar in them. The magic word here is vareity as a garden filled entirely with lavender would not attract as many bees as you would think. Aim to plant lots of different bee-friendly plants to attract different types.
Some bee-friendly plants are:
rose ( only those with open flowers)
This next way to help bees is not for everyone but if you have the time, money and interest become a bee keeper for a hobby. If you have children who are quite young or like to play football, cricket, tennis or some other sport involving a ball that could hit the hive it is not advisable because they obviously could get stung, hurting your child and the bee. Instead you could support local bee keepers.
Get your say in a local community garden and make sure it is bee friendly.
Sign petitions to ban pesticides and chemicals dangerous to bees.
Plant bee-friendly ground cover. This means things like thyme, mint and clover more ground cover for bees is in the list of bee-friendly plants. In addition landscape with blossoming fruit trees as opposed to landscaping rocks or non-blossoming trees.
Keep some open space as bees love meadow habitats. This could just be your area of lawn or something like it.
Provide shelter such as rotting leaves and stumps for bees to make a hive. Or, get quite a large old plant pot with a hole at the bottom, then with a piece of hose pipe create a tube which is large enough for bees to crawl through into the pot. Then you can half bury the pot or put it in a place it will not get knocked over. Hopefully bees will find this inviting and warm. There are also lots of shops where you can buy insect boxes to hang on trees, perfect for solitary bees.
What About Butterflies and Other Insects
One of the most popular insects is the butterfly, renowned for its beauty and gentle nature. They too are valuable pollinators and an amazing addition to a garden bringing it to life.
Butterflies love the same kind of plants as bees and so do the other pollinating insects. Make sure you get natural, sweet smelling, nectar rich plants native to your country. smaller insects may like smaller plants. That is why clover is great. You can incorporate into your lawn by scattering seeds all over it.
If it is butterflies you are after, is there a particular one. There are probably many particularly beautiful butterflies in your area. If there is an endangered one try to help that. If not choose one you like the look of or more than one if you want. Find out want plants they like and what plants their caterpillars like. If you plant generous amounts of that plant your garden will be filled with cocoons and it will be amazing to see all those butterflies break free and fly into the air.
They may even come back to your garden to lay there eggs if you keep it nice for them with their favourite plants.
This may sound obvious but many people will over look it, look at other people's gardens in your area and see what insects their plants attract and model your garden on their's. This is vital for any bug. What wrks in one area may not work in another so be sure to look at gardens near you.
Try to attract hummingbirds too, they are just as interesting and beautiful as butterflies, pollinate plants and are a unique addition to your garden few people will have in their's.
You can buy caterpillars and butterflies. If you have a garden suitable for them do this if you can't attarct them naturally.
I hope you enjoyed this article. Please comment if you like this article and comment if you don't as well so I can improve it for you. Also comment if you have found any plants that work particuarly well with bees, butterflies and other insects. Thank you for reading.