Over dinner, think about the fact that we have pollinators to thank for every third mouthful of food we eat, and that (according to WWF), pollinators are worth a staggering £690mil/year to the UK economy. Pardon the pun, but in the past we’ve become familiar with the buzz about bees, how important they are and due to factors such as habitat loss, pesticide use and climate change they are in decline.
Can you imagine entering the local supermarket to find 3/4 of the shelves empty?
These stark images were shown nearly 10 years ago by supermarket Wholefoods, to illustrate what their shelves would look like if bees disappeared.
These are the shelves of fruit and veg..
And here are the dairy shelves..
However the discussion has expanded to include more pollinators – butterflies, moths, insects and beetles.
Insect populations worldwide are plummeting, with over 40% declining, and a third endangered; some suggest that a quarter of insects could be wiped out within a decade.
(source: Biological Conservation Journal review of 75 studies worldwide)
So now that the gardening season is in full swing it’s time to do what we can for the pollinators that are so critical to life and the food that we eat
Here are some things that we can do to make a difference:
- Bee Friendly planting – we’ve mentioned it in previous DEN articles however a good reminder when you’re buying plants is to think diversity.
- Growing more flowers is a great start but think about planting a range of colours, shapes and sizes – different varieties attract different insects. Also consider plants that flower at different times throughout the season – extending the beauty of the garden and supporting pollinators!
- Leave a section untended to grow wild. Even a small patch can make a big difference. And if you want to go one step further buy/build your own ‘bug hotel’ (The Woodland Trust, National Trust, Wildlife Trust have ‘how to’ guides on their websites)
- Cut the grass less often. Even if you can’t fully embrace ‘No Mow May‘ consider longer intervals in between mowing. The insects will love you for it!
- Carefully consider the use of pesticides. With organic gardening techniques being mainstream, there is a wealth of knowledge about alternative solutions.
And finally, if you see a bee in need….help it! In the summer months, tired bees can be common. The RSPB recommends placing the bee on a flower which looks to have lots of pollen. Bees usually rest for around 30mins. If this method fails and the bee doesn’t revive you can try offering it a 2 tspn sugar/1 tspn water solution (but never honey).
If you are interested to read more then have a look at https://www.wwf.org.uk/updates/how-bee-