There are over 270 species of bees in the UK, including 1 species of honey bee, 25 or so species of bumblebee, and over 200 solitary bees! All are vital for pollination, improving the food we can grow, encouraging flowers and blossoms, and supporting nature. But all bees are under increasing threat from the loss of green spaces, mowing and the use of pesticides.
You can help them by taking part in the Bumblebee Conservation Trust’s “beewalk”. It’s a great way to reconnect with nature and play amateur field ecologist, tracking and reporting on local bee populations. It only takes an hour or so each month, to track along a mile long route of you own devising, from March to October, and count the bees that you see. More information about “beewalk” and how to take part can be found here.
Flowers and Planting
You can also easily provide bee friendly habitats! Bees are active for most of the year, so good planting for bees trys to encourage a range of different flowers that will bloom at different times of the year. You don’t need very much space either, as bees can easily make it to balconies or rooftops. Weeds and wild-lawns are great for bees too, so if you have some green space at home or near you, try and leave it unmowed and let nature do the rest! If you do have space for planting, you can obtain bee friendly seeds from many organisations (such as 38degrees here) to produce your own bee friendly garden border or bee friendly mini-meadow.
You can help solitary bees by giving them a home! Bee Hotels are a great way of supporting bees and making sure that they have the habitat they need. They can also be a fun D-I-Y project for your home. There is lots of information on how to make your own bee hotel, and site it in your green space:
The Bumblebee Conservation Trust has a guide to Bee Nest Boxes here:
RSPB – How to Build a Bee Hotel for Nature on Your Doorstep is here:
The WildLife Trust on How to Build a Bee Hotel – Solitary Bees are a Gardener’s Best Friend – here