You will have heard that bees are essential not only to humans but to the survival of the planet, but have you ever thought how can this bee?
Bees allow plants to reproduce through pollination. Approximately 80% of flowering plants rely on pollination to survive, so this is an important role that enables entire ecosystems to function. Plants then contribute to the food chain by feeding animals such as birds and insects. If the food source for these animals diminished, it would cause the entire food chain to suffer and possibly collapse altogether.
Why are bees at risk?
There are several threats facing the bee population, which include habitat loss and climate change. The most pressing threat to bees however is pesticides. We spray pesticides to protect our crops, but these chemicals are responsible for killing bees. The irony is our bees make these crops possible in the first place.
How can you help?
There are many ways you can help bees in your own community. One easy way is to allow wildflowers to thrive on an area of lawn or paddock by not mowing the grass during the spring. You can also spread a wildflower seed mix across your lawn for butterflies and bees, and plant bee-friendly plants in your garden such as Lavender, Mahonia, Hawthorn, Bluebells, Crab Apple Trees and Ox-eye daisies. You can support organic farmers who do not use chemicals on their crops and spread the word about the importance of bees and their declining population.
If you have time and space, you may consider taking up Beekeeping as a hobby or as a commercial venture. Beekeeping is a popular side business for many smallholders, it is a technical discipline and the hives do require a lot of attention, but it is a relatively low cost to set up a simple apiary. There are plenty of training courses and beekeeper clubs around for support and to improve your knowledge of beekeeping.
If you would like to find out more, then the Bumblebee Conservation Trust is a great starting point, and even explains how to identify bees in your own garden. The bees do so much for us, acting now to help protect them is the very least we can do.
Image courtesy of Helen Ahpornsiri