Bees bring more than just an idyllic summer buzz – they're essential to our existence. These tiny busy creatures play a vital role in the production of our food supplies by pollinating crops in the fields, orchards, meadows, gardens, and allotments.
There are about 250 different species of bees in the UK. However, you've probably heard in the news over the last decade that the bee population is in trouble. Some species have already become extinct and yet more are in danger. Culprits for this include agricultural changes, loss of habitat, and certain insecticides that get ingested by our bees as they collect pollen. Since awareness to the plight was raised action has been taken and some species are recovering their numbers. But there is still a great need to get involved to help them out so that they can keep generating the fresh produce that we need to survive.
The good news is that there are several things that we can do around our own gardens to help the bees to do their job in a safer environment. For example, using bee friendly home-made garden boosting products, and introducing some of the plants that they love to collect pollen and nectar from. They use what they harvest on their travels to feed their colonies, so it's vital that particular plants are available and thriving. Helpful varieties include: chives, cornflower, allium, catmint, comfrey, foxglove, lavender, poppy, raspberry, rosemary, honeysuckle, and even the mighty sunflower.
Leaving the clover to grow in your lawn can really give them a helping hand, too. You can also dedicate an area to let weeds grow. Yes you read that right, bees love dead nettle, bird's foot trefoil, and even thistles - so there's a great excuse to leave that patch that keeps growing back!
Try making your own bee-friendly insecticide to use around the garden. One suggestion is chrysanthemum tea which can be made by putting a handful of dried chrysanthemum flowers into hot water and steeping for an hour. Strain the mixture when it has cooled, and then put the liquid into a spray bottle and use it on your plants to help deter other plant-munching insects. You can even do your bit to encourage future bee colonies by placing some bee hives around your garden or on top of the garage. You'll get to harvest your own lovely, truly organic honey as a tasty reward too!