Join the Great British Bee Count with Friends of the Earth, to help raise awareness to Britain’s under threat bees, and learn how you can encourage them in your garden – and there’s a free app to help.
Every third time we lift a fork at the dining table, we should really thank our pollinators. Many people take them for granted but without them, experts estimate we would be without 30 per cent of the food we eat. Unfortunately, habitat loss, the use of pesticides and disease mean that particularly bees, a major pollinator, are more threatened than ever before.
Nature-lovers are being encouraged to take part in Friends of the Earth’s Great British Bee Count between 17th May and 30th June 2018.
Suitable for all ages, the Great British Bee Count helps people find out about the amazing bees that can be found throughout the UK and discover more about their incredible diversity, the threats they face, and what we can all do to help them.
Everyone can help our bees by creating bee-friendly spaces in their gardens, schools and patios – as well as other open spaces. Friends of the Earth has a number of simple tips on how you can help (see below).
By downloading a free, fun and easy-to-use app you can identify and learn about the precious pollinators that visit our gardens, parks and countryside. Participants can record each species of bees they spot – and even send in photos.
Register now at www.greatbritishbeecount.co.uk
“We know our bees are in decline, but we don’t actually know an awful lot about the numbers,” explains Rory Dimond of Friends of the Earth (FoE), which runs the count with support from green energy firm Ecotricity. But he finds cause for optimism in the fact that more and more people take part in the count each year. Some 16,000 bee-lovers joined in in 2017, recording 320,000 sightings and providing a wealth of invaluable data from gardens, parks and other spots across the UK.
Easy ways to help bees
Habitat loss is one of the biggest threats our bees face, which is why Friends of the Earth’s Great British Bee Count is urging people to create pollinator-friendly gardens, schools and other open spaces. Get inspiration for creating a bee-friendly haven or try these simple tips:
• Grow pollen and nectar-rich plants: Different bee species prefer different flower shapes, so aim for a range from tubular-shaped flowers to open-headed flowers. As well as flowers, try shrubs, herbs, trees, fruit and veg. Spring and autumn flowering bulbs are also great.
• Plant through the seasons: Bees need food all year round, so grow flowers, shrubs and bulbs to offer a welcome for bees in the colder months.
• No garden? Plant up a pot or window box. Try lavender, heathers, nasturtiums, sunflowers and bulbs like crocuses, as well as herbs.
• Grow flowering herbs: Try chives, sage, marjoram, mint and thyme, and rosemary if you have more space.
• Learn to love a few weeds: Dandelions and clover are great source of food for bees.
• Avoid using pesticides: Help wildlife thrive by putting away the chemical pesticides, especially those containing bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticides.
• Give bees a drink in hot weather: Provide a shallow bowl of clean rainwater with a few pebbles for the bees to land on.
• Buy a bee-friendly gift: A beautiful plant, bee hotel or a Friends of the Earth Bee Saver Kit make unique gifts, that will give our bees a helping hand.
Main photo – Mining bee (Andrena sp.) by Leanne Taylor-Smith submitted to the Great British Bee Count 2016