UK Nature-lovers are being urged by environmentalists, bee scientists and wildlife gardening experts to help the nation’s under-threat bees by creating pollinator-friendly gardens, schools and neighbourhoods, ahead of this year’s Great British Bee Count (19 May-30 June 2017). Here’s how to get involved…
Now in its fourth year, the Great British Bee Count inspires members of the public to download a fun, free app to identify and find out more about how we can help some of the amazing bees that we share our towns and countryside with.
Over fifteen thousand people took part in last year’s Great British Bee Count, organised by Friends of the Earth, with support from Buglife and sponsorship from Waitrose.
This year’s app is even better, with more bees and plant species, clearer identification and more information on how to help bees. The bee sightings will be mapped on www.greatbritishbeecount.co.uk and shared on the National Biodiversity Network, where researchers, experts and local authorities can access the data.
Habitat loss is one of the biggest threats Britain’s bees face, which is why it’s more important than ever that we understand more about Britain’s 260+ bee species, and why bee scientists and wildlife gardening experts are urging people to play their part by creating bee-friendly habitats.
Friends of the Earth chief executive , said:
“Bees are crucial pollinators for our fields, gardens and countryside. We can all help these under-threat pollinators with a few simple tips for creating bee-friendly gardens, schools and other open spaces. By taking part in this year’s Great British Bee Count with our fun, free app, you can you can find out more about these fascinating and valuable insects.”
Kate Bradbury, wildlife gardening expert and author of The Wildlife Gardener said:
“Getting to know bees is one of the most rewarding experiences. From the big buzzy bumbles to red mason and leafcutter bees, to tiny things that you’d never see if you didn’t stop to look, there’s a whole world out there waiting to be discovered. And, by taking a few simple measure, you can help these vital pollinators too.”
Some simple tips for creating bee-friendly spaces:
* Grow bee-friendly plants
Bees visit plants for their nectar and pollen, and may visit a plant for one or both of these. As a general guide, bees see purple and blue better than other colours. They’ll use their senses to find other colours such as white apple blossom. Different bee species prefer different flower shapes, so aim for a range from tubular-shaped flowers like snapdragons and wallflowers, to open-headed flowers like yarrow and verbena. It’s not just flowers like these that bees love – try shrubs, herbs, trees (hazel, pussy willow) and fruit and veg (beans, peas, peppers, onions) too. Spring and autumn flowering bulbs are also great.
* Plant through the seasons
Bees need food through every season, not just the summer. Get started with Friends of the Earth’s free seasonal guide to 28 great plants for bees.
* Short of space?
Even if you don’t have a garden or much space, a few plants in a window box or pots will all help bees. Try lavender, heathers, nasturtiums, sunflowers and bulbs like crocuses. Herbs are great too for containers.
* Enjoy fresh herbs
Herbs provide a valuable source of food for bees – and great flavours for your cooking. Chives, sage, marjoram, mint and thyme are great if you have limited space. Discover 5 easy herbs which bees will love here.
* Learn to love a few weeds
If you have a lawn, leave some dandelions and clover to flower for the bees. A ‘messy corner’ with a pile of old wood and leaves will help bees and bring other wildlife too
* Avoid using pesticides
Help wildlife thrive by putting away the chemical pesticides, especially those containing bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticides.
* Buying a gift?
Bee-friendly plants or a bee hotel make a lovely gift. How about a patio fruit tree like a crab apple or cherry (wild, sour, bird or plum cherries) for a special anniversary? Strawberries and blueberries are great for young children.
Register to take part in this year’s Great British Bee Count at www.greatbritishbeecount.co.uk and Be a Friend of the Earth – see things differently. For further information visit www.foe.co.uk, or follow at @wwwfoecouk.