Since the late 1990s, beekeepers have noted a rapid decline in bee numbers. However, there are many ways you can help to save and secure the bee population.
How to Save the Bees
There are many ways to protect bees and to help them thrive in your local environment. They are all important in ensuring the safety of honey bees, bumble bees, mason bees and other native bee species, and they are also simple and easy to do.
Seven of these simple and easy ways are:
1. Protect Bee Habitats
One of the main threats to bees and their habitats is the growing industrialisation of our planet. Owning a garden, or even a small patch of land, can help. Using your green space for wildflowers and other nectar-rich plants should attract bees.
Anywhere suitable for planting, including balconies and street corners,
can make a suitable home for a bee colony.
Getting involved with your local government to encourage sensible limits in urban development can also help protect bee habitats.
2. Create a Bee-Friendly Garden
Volunteering to create a bee garden involves planting flowers and plants which help to feed and house bees. It shouldn’t cost much, and the bees will give back by pollinating your flowers.
When choosing what to plant, make sure your choices are high in nectar, such as gladiolus, honeysuckle, and foxgloves. Single flower tops are also more effective, as double headed ones produce less nectar and lack pollen.
Changing your planting technique may also help, as bees usually focus on one area at a time. Therefore, planting flowers in patches gives them an area to cover. Planting at least three different types of flowers to ensure a constant food source through as many seasons as possible is also recommended.
Your bee garden may also house ground-nesting bees, so it should have a clear area for a colony.
3. Avoid Pesticides
The majority of pesticides and man-made chemicals for food crops are harmful to bees. If a bee is not deterred by the pesticides and attempts to pollinate a covered plant, it is likely they will die. If not, they may become infected and spread this to others in their nest.
If your garden requires treatment, there are organic and HSE-approved pesticides available that will not harm bees. As well as this, applying them at night or when bees are least active is advisable.
If you would rather not use organic pesticides, you can also purchase insects such as ladybirds to keep down the number of pests in your garden. This will not endanger the bees.
4. Create a Bee Bath
These help bees to rehydrate during their long hours of collecting pollen and nectar. All you need to make one is a bird bath or any other container with a large, shallow base. Fill the container with water and scatter stones and pebbles inside so that they emerge from the water and act as a landing place for the bees to drink from.
5. House Solitary Bees
Many people do not realise that most bees, with the exception of honeybees, are solitary insects. As many as 70% of bees live underground, and 30% live in holes in trees or hollow stems. These bees usually build their nests on undisturbed land, so leaving some of your garden untouched will benefit them.
Building a bee house, or buying a ready-built one online to put in your garden, also provides shelter for bees.
6. Build a Hive
Starting a honeybee hive of your own can help save the species and directly impact your local environment. Your bees will pollinate plants in nearby areas and having your own hive can help you learn about the biology of bees and their ecosystems. You will also benefit from being able to collect the raw honey and beeswax.
7. Support Your Local Beekeeper
If you cannot keep bees of your own, you can also help the bees by supporting beekeepers in your area. They will sell local honey and beeswax products created from harvesting their own hives, with the money going to supporting their businesses and nurturing their bees.
Why We Need to Save the Bees
Honeybees remain the world’s most important pollinator. About 1/3 of the food we eat every day, mainly comprised of fruit and vegetables, is a result of the pollination work done by bees.
Cucumbers, broccoli, citrus fruits, sunflowers grown for oil, and avocados all rely on pollination to grow, and the pollination of fodder crops keeps animals alive on pastoral farms. But bees don’t just play a pivotal role in pollinating crops for food. Flax and cotton crops, which are used to make textiles, also rely on pollination to survive.
It is thought that bees are responsible for the successful production of over 80m tonnes of food grown in the EU each year, and we would struggle to feed the world’s population without them.
What is Harming Bees?
Bees are dying and being harmed in greater numbers, with a range of factors having been identified as the most common reasons for this:
Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)
There is still no concrete evidence as to why CCD happens or what causes it. We only know that it causes large numbers of bees to go missing from their hive, perhaps as a result of infections, malnutrition, loss of habitat or increasing use of pesticides. Large scale disappearances can have drastic effects on crops and over 10m hives were lost between 2007-2013 to CCD.
Growth in pesticide use and the industrialisation of agriculture is leading to losses in habitats, foraging spaces, and killing and harming bees. Some of the pesticides used will not directly kill the bee, but instead the bee will become infected and can transmit that infection upon returning to their hive.
Erratic weather patterns are also thought to be a cause of bee decline, as climate change is suspected to be one of the reasons behind CCD.
DIY Nest Removals
Attempting to remove a bees’ nest yourself is often dangerous, both to you and to the bees. Never try to remove a nest aggressively, and remember that in some areas bees are now classified as an endangered species.
We strongly recommend that you seek professional assistance when removing nests from your property.
We Safely Remove Bees
AMES have over 30 years of experience in safely relocating bees across the UK. Our methods are humane, and ensure that all bees we remove are transported somewhere safe to continue their work for our planet.
Our team understands the importance of conservation and our experienced beekeepers will safely remove a hive or nest with the bees inside, while causing little to no damage to the hive. Sometimes swarm boxes are used to help transport bees to a new location.
If you’re struggling with a beehive, have a nest you want removed, or think you may have a swarming problem, please contact us right away.