The 10th of July every year marks “Don’t Step on a Bee Day” highlighting the plight of bees (and other pollinators) in the UK and around the world.
In the past 5 years the bee population has decreased by a third. In the UK alone, 35 bee species are currently under threat of extinction and all bee species are facing serious threats to their survival.
Building works for houses/offices have destroyed bees’ natural habits – 97% of our vital grasslands and hedgerows have been lost in the past 60 years. Increased use of pesticides, results in paralysis and eventual death. Insects that would have kept parasite numbers under control are killed off by pesticides, allowing harmful parasites to flourish and bees under the influence of pesticides are less resistant to the harmful varroa mite – a parasite which can wipe out bee colonies.
But by hurting the bees, we are ultimately only hurting ourselves.
Bees perform in the region of 80 percent of all pollination worldwide. A lone bee can pollinate a whopping 5,000 plants each day. It is estimated that 30% of the world crops (and 90% of the wild plants!) need a pollinating insect like a bee to thrive.
One third of the food you eat is pollinated by bees, and if fresh fruit and veg doesn’t appeal to you think of the bi-products….avocado flowers are pollinated by honey bees, when the bees are gone that’s no guacamole with your nachos or fajitas. Wind naturally pollinates Tomato flowers but is helped along tremendously by the bumblebee, bumblebee pollinated yields are larger both in size and quantity. If tomato supplies dry up with the loss of the bumblebee, where’s the sauce coming from for your pizza base or bolognese sauce?
Scientists estimate that it would cost over £1.8 billion every single year to manually pollinate UK crops by hand. And that’s just the UK! Think of the cost implications on your favourite foods if artificial pollination has to take place!
Consider the knock on effects on animals, especially herbivores. many animals, including Safari Zoo Giraffes, consume alfalfa (AKA Lucerne), alfalfa is pollinated by bees. Cotton plants depend on bees, their loss impacts the fashion industry and mass production of natural fabrics. Canola is used to produce biofuel, the plants depend on bee pollination, the loss of bees reduces access to biofuel, increasing dependency on fossil fuels and adding further pressure on an environment which is already stretched to breaking point.
We’ve painted a very dismal but realistic picture here, but there is hope! The bees clearly need our help so here’s some things you can do:
1. Habitats – replace the habitats humans have stolen in your own gardens, patios and yards. Bee boxes and bug hotels can be purchased but they can also be made from unwanted household items and recycled materials.
2. Food sources – offer bees an alternative to the nasty pesticide laden crops by planting flowers from the RHS perfect pollinators list to attract our buzzy friends. And don’t weed your gardens, bees love a good dandelion and in early spring, weeds are often the only source of food for. bees.
3. Give them a drink! At this time of year, you may see a bee crawling, looking like he is struggling and on the verge of death. They are not, they are just tired! Help revive them by mixing two tablespoons of white, granulated sugar with one tablespoon of water, and placing the mix on a plate or spoon and allowing them to drink. They’ll be back on their wings in no time!
4. Avoid the use of not pesticides, fungicides or herbicides on plants or in your garden. Check any plants you buy are not pre-treated with neonics pesticides!