Bee Decline and How You Can Help
There are more than 250 species of bee within the UK. The main bee species you can find include the Mining Bee, Bumblebee, Mason Bee and each of these families comprise of a number of subspecies. You can also find one type of the Honey Bee in the UK. To find out more information on each of these bee populations, visit The Woodland Trust where you can learn how to identify each species and in which habitats they can be found.
Causes of UK Bee Decline
Bees have faced decline due to habitat loss, climate change and the use of pesticides. The change in our urban landscape has meant that bees have lost vital habitats. Friends of the Earth have reported bees have lost 97% of their wild flower meadows since the 1940s. Intensive farming methods through use of pesticides have reduced the amount of pollinator friendly habitats which has had a devastating impact on vital bee food sources. It has also been found that when a bee comes into contact with pesticides, it either dies immediately or, if it survives, it transports residue from the pesticide back to its colony. It is believed this has caused some decline on bee colonies across the UK and is one of the proposed causes of ‘colony collapse disorder’ (CCD). This disorder occurs when only a queen bee and a handful of immature bees are left in a colony due to the disappearance of the worker bees.
Scientists have researched the effects of climate change and how this impacts bee nesting behaviours. Climate change may be affecting the timing of plant flowering and bee emergence following winter. The early flowering of plants followed by a sudden drop in temperature and snowy conditions has created new challenges for our UK bees.
How can we Help Bee Populations
There are many great ideas that can be found online to help support bees and many of these can be done at home, school and in our communities. Many of these activities provide a fantastic opportunity for children to get involved in bee conservation and can be incorporated into a school or home-learning project.
- One great activity to try with children is making a bee hotel. This can be done using a range of recyclable items such as an old plastic bottle stuffed with natural materials. Further instructions can be found at Friends of the Earth.
- Another idea you can try with the kids (even if you aren’t a keen gardener) is making a wildflower section in your garden or yard. Wildflower meadows attract bees and other pollinating insects and a mini wildflower section in your garden can be low maintenance. All you have to do is sow the seeds (either mid Spring or early Autumn) and water regularly. You can purchase mixed wildflower seeds from most supermarkets and garden centres.
- If you purchase honey on a regular basis, please remember to buy locally made honey. Local honey will be prepared by local beekeepers, keeping food miles down and the honey will have a lovely unique flavour reflecting the local flora.
- You can help out any tired bees by creating this energy drink suggested by the RSPB. You can mix two tablespoons of white, granulated sugar with one tablespoon of water, and then place the mix on a small spoon. Place the bee on the spoon and hopefully it will drink and revive its energy.
Pollinator Friendly Event at Greener Kirkcaldy
Greener Kirkcaldy is running a session on Pollinator Friendly & Companion Planting on Saturday 25th May at Ravenscraig Walled Garden. The workshop helps you maximise your vegetable harvest in the garden by learning which plants help increase growth, reduce pests and attract pollinators. You can book this workshop (and many more) through the events section or if you have any questions, please phone 01592 858458 or email email@example.com|