Bees on the Allotment
Bee Friendly Gardening
What do Bees do?
Bees in the garden
Pollination of Vegetables
Bee friendly gardening — an important insect
The bee is more important than you may think. They help with our crops and are the manufacturers behind the multi-million-pound honey market. In fact, around two thirds of crops rely on insect pollination to reproduce and around one third of this is done by the bee — without them many of these plants would die out!
Suttons, experts in gardening and retailers of vegetable seeds, has created a handy infographic to outline the importance of the bees and ways that you can help them. Find out which plants are bee friendly and will welcome the insect to your green space and discover how to create a shelter for a queen bee to make her nest.
The important role bees play in our world and the need to protect and conserve the insect is recognised around the world
Here's an informative article kindly written and donated to our site by Clara Beaufort from USA
Photo via Seaq68
Save Our Fruits And Vegetables: How You Can Help The Bees
Short of the seeds themselves, bees are our greatest ally in food production. These winged pollinators are responsible for one third of everything we eat, including fruits, nuts, vegetables, and many of the crops grown to feed livestock. According to the American Beekeeping Federation, honey bees contribute over $14 billion to the US crop production industries.
“The fact is that of the 100 crop species that provide 90% of the world's food, over 70 are pollinated by bees,” says the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner. But bee populations are dwindling due to a number of manmade and natural threats. The good news is there are things we humans can do to help them.
Threats To The Bee Population
Studies have shown that not only can chemical pesticides, insecticides, and fungicides be 1,000 times more toxic to bees, but they also affect their immune systems, sense of direction, metabolism, and memory. Air pollution interferes with the bees’ ability to smell and locate flowering plants. According to the United Nations, “scents that could travel over 800 metres in the 1800s [are] now reaching less than 200 metres from a plant.”
Parasites and pests that threaten bee colonies and honeycombs are quickly migrating from sub-Saharan Africa to North America, Australia, and Europe. Bees are also suffering from the spread of other 'alien species' like Africanized bees, now found in the US, and the Asian hornet, which has colonized half of France, and feed on honey bees.
On top of these concerns rests climate change, which is believed to be causing change in the flowering patterns of crops and expected rainfall, both of which affect bee activity and the quantity of available nectar. While all these factors threaten bees and by extension, our food supply, none of them explain colony collapse, which scientists are still working to understand.
A number of theories have been proposed to explain colony collapse, where worker bees abandon their queen and their hive, leaving it to die off without them, but no proven cause has been found. The Environmental Protection Agency indicates that researchers are now focusing on these factors:
The invasive varroa mite
New diseases like the emerging Israeli Acute Paralysis virus and Nosema, a gut parasite
Stress due to humans transporting bees across long distances for use as pollinators
Changes in habitat
Inadequate forage species
Stress caused by a combination of the above (which can hurt a bee’s immune system)
Without a definitive origin, it's become more important than ever for us to do what we can to preserve nature's pollinators—and the crops that rely on them.
How You Can Help The Bees
There are a number of things you can do to help the bees without donning a mesh hat and tending your own hive. (Bear in mind, however, that backyard beekeeping has actually grown increasingly popular and probably isn’t as tough as you think!) City-dwellers can grow herbs like chives, rosemary, thyme, and lavender on an open balcony or patio. For those with more space, planting a bee garden might be a viable option.
Bee gardens should incorporate plants and flowers that bloom at different times, ensuring that visitors find a constant source of pollen throughout the seasons. Crocus, hyacinth, borage, and wild lilac flower during early spring while popular and easy-to-grow summer blooms include bee balm, cosmos, snapdragons, hostas, echinacea, and foxglove. To extend your blooms into autumn, add some asters, witch hazel, goldenrod, sedum, and zinnias.
Bees also require fresh water. You can easily add a bee bath to your garden by filling a shallow container with pebbles or twigs so the bees have somewhere to land while drinking, before adding a small amount of clean water.
While leaving a portion of your yard undisturbed can provide natural homes for bees, you can also purchase manufactured bee homes to welcome these pollinators to your pristine, manicured lawn.
The Honeybee Conservancy is working to create stocked honeybee hives and solitary bee homes across the United States in an effort to increase populations. You can help them reach their goals by sponsoring a hive.
Finally, you can support the bees by purchasing your honey from local beekeepers instead of the processed, industrialized honey found in most supermarkets. A quick Google search or a visit to your local farmers’ market should uncover a number of local producers.
We don't yet know what's causing the decline of bee populations, but we do know that our crops and our food availability rely on this partnership. Until there is a definitive solution, we need to give this species a hand—and reliable sources of pollen, free of harmful pesticides.