• Katy Gardener

SAVE THE BEES! 5 simple steps to take in your garden

Updated: May 16

WHY WE NEED BEES

Bees are ninja pollinators and are responsible for pollinating up to 80% of the fruit and vegetables we eat, and the delicate wildflowers we appreciate.


Bees help to keep the circle of life buzzing along. They provide vital food for humans, birds, insects and animals and don’t ask for much in return.


Tragically, bee colonies are declining around the world due to a combination of climate change, pesticides and destroyed habitats. We need to take action NOW or risk losing everything we have become accustomed to. You just need to read the novel The History of the Bees to get an idea of what life would be like without bees, self pollinating anyone?


Luckily there is plenty we can all do in our gardens (no matter the size) to help. As this is a gardening blog for beginners I've made this quick video for you:

*Just in case the video does not load, you can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrFXaUdy0Dc&t=48s*


Here's a recap of the 5 tips:


  1. Leave an area of your lawn unmown to encourage wild flowers to grow;

  2. Think about year round flowering because bees go out foraging in the winter;

  3. Avoid planting red flowers as bees can't see them;

  4. Try to buy flowers in their simplest form. (Don't go mad buying highly cultivated varieties); and

  5. Plant the same variety of flowers in clumps to make foraging more efficient for the bees.


THE BEST FLOWERS, HERBS AND TRESS YOU COULD PLANT TO SUPPORT BEES


SPRING

Bluebell, Crab apple tree, Cherry tree, Forget-me-not, Hawthorn, Rosemary, Borage


SUMMER

Delphinium, Foxglove, Hardy geranium,Hollyhock, Snapdragon, Lavender, Thyme, Buddleja, Cornflower

AUTUMN

Dahlia (single petaled open varieties), Autumn clematis, Cosmos, Michaelmas Daisy


WINTER

Primrose, Winter crocus, Hellebores, Cyclamen, Willow trees, Snowdrops



And if you are still interested, read on for some amazing facts about honeybees:


The Queen bee rules the hive

There is only ever one queen in the hive, and she is responsible for reproducing all the offspring. Her other main function is to produce pheromones that give the hive its own identity to prevent intruders from other hives entering. Queens are fed nothing but royal jelly which sets them apart from other bees in the hive. Worker bees always have fertilized queen eggs on standby if the hive is preparing to swarm, or as backup if the current queen is getting old. You can spot a Queen as she will have longer legs and bigger abdomen. She will also move slowly around the hive.


Worker bees run the hive

Worker bees make up 98% of the hive which in a productive hive can be up to 60,000 bees! Workers are all female. They are very busy: They nurture the young, build the hive, clean the hive, guard the hive, forage for pollen and nectar, and make the honey.


Drones (the men) do their business, then die!

There are only a few hundred drones in a hive. You can spot them by their huge eyes, chunky body and fat hairy backs. Their one purpose is to mate, so they have no sting. They fly around very high in the sky looking for queen bees. Once they mate their genitalia explodes and their career is over! At the end of the summer the worker bees kick them out.


Honeybees are not lazy

In a single foraging journey, a honeybee will visit around 100 flowers, and in a single day that same honeybee can make up to 15 trips to and from the hive.


They stick to what they know

Whilst out foraging a honeybee will only collect nectar from one type of flower approximately 100 times, this is known as flower fidelity.


They always think ahead

Honeybees are the only type of bee that stores honey in their hive to ensure the colony will survive over winter. As the colony reaches its peak in population in early summer it focuses on collecting nectar and pollen to make honey for the coming winter.


On the hunt

When worker bees go foraging, they are on the look out for nectar, pollen, tree resin and water.

  • Nectar is collected to create honey;

  • Pollen to create royal jelly which is used to feed the brood and create a Queen;

  • Resin from buds and tree sap to create propolis, which is the binding material in the hive that protects it from disease due to its antibacterial properties; and

  • Water to regulate temperature in the hive.

Let's do everything we can to protect these incredible insects.

Lecture over!

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