Monday, 27 July 2015


help british bees save the bees

Now, I love bees. My parents love bees too, and raised me not to be scared of these fuzzy little creatures. In fact, my dad once spent half an hour with a pair of tweezers disentangling a bee from a spiders web to save it, and my mum has turned their back garden into a bee haven. My boyfriend on the other hand, is terrified of anything remotely bee-like. One time we found one in the back room and he promptly ran away, shutting me inside (don't worry, I ushered it out the window). But whether you love them or hate them, there can be no denying that we need pollinators like bees.

As many of you will have already heard, the UK government has just given the go-ahead for bee-killing pesticides to be used, even though they are illegal in the EU! If things weren't already hard enough for Britain's bees - who are in decline due to habitat loss - this will make things so much worse. While there is only so much we can do to change the government's decision, there are things that everyone can do to help #savethebees!

- Make your garden bee friendly -
If you are lucky enough to have your own garden, you can greatly help the bees in your local area by making it bee friendly. There are a few ways you can do this!

1. Grow plants bees love
There are so many plants, flowers and herbs that encourage bees. Basically anything that has a good amount of pollen and a flower head that they can get their big butts into is great. The best time to have these plants ready for is of course springtime, but any time is a good time to start! English lavender, sunflowers, foxgloves, and wildflowers are some of the better known pollinator friendly plants, but there are of course others (the bees in my parents garden love their poppies!). The simplest thing you could do, if you are not especially green thumbed, is to get a packet of wildflower seeds, and just allow a section of your garden (or even a few pots) to grow wild and free! If you want to go further, the Royal Horticultural Society has free downloadable pdfs of plants and wildflowers that are perfect for pollinators here, and Gardener's World have a breakdown of some great seasonal plants here

2. Don't use pesticide.
If you already have some bees in your garden, or want to encourage some, don't use pesticides or chemicals on your plants! These can be very damaging to pollinators. If you have to use something, there are ways to reduce the risk (such as using them at night, or only when flowers are not in full bloom).

3. Bee hotels and nests
Not all bees nest in hives, and for these solitary pollinators, constructions such as 'bee hotels' can provide a safe and secure nesting spot within your own garden. There are many guides online (like this simple one), or you can also buy them ready made. You could also make a simple bee nest like this one from Gardener's World.

4. Monitor your bees
If you already have bees in your garden, one good way to help them is to monitor them. Learn what types of bees visit your garden (identification guide here), and take part in surveys such as BeeWatch (from groups such as The Bumble Bee Conservation Trust).

- Support UK beekeepers -
If you don't have a garden (and live in a flat in the city like me) there are still ways that you can indirectly help bees, by helping British beekeepers!

1. Buy local honey
If you use honey, buy honey from local beekeepers if you can. If there are any near you, you can usually find them at farmers markets or local food fairs, but you can also find lots of British sources online. For example, Hilltop Honey have their own website (and are also available on Amazon), and there are a few British beekeepers on 'Not on the Highstreet', like VonnyBee and Silver Frame. By supporting the beekeepers within the UK, you will also be supporting their bees!

2. Buy British honey or beeswax products
I personally love it when natural products include honey as an ingredient (it has great antiseptic and moisturising properties), but you'd be surprised at how few companies actually source that honey within the UK. One such company is Our Tiny Bees, who create skincare and candles using honey and beeswax sourced only from British beekeepers. I'm not saying stop using honey products sourced elsewhere, just maybe give these a try too!

3. Donate / adopt
If honey or beeswax products just aren't for you, you can also support beekepers in other ways. Hilltop Honey have an 'adopt a bee' (you can name it!) or 'adopt a hive' (your hive gets a plaque with your name on it, and even visit it) schemes, but there are also so many other schemes out there (like this one)! 

- Contact your local MP -
There are a number of petitions circling online that allow you to ask your local MP to back the pesticide ban, such as this one from Friends of the Earth. By quickly entering some details you can at least raise awareness, and hopefully if there is enough support for campaigns like these, the government will listen and the pesticide ban will be kept. 

Do you think bees are just cute little fuzzballs on wings too? Share your love and bee-friendly suggestions in the comments!

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