Updated: Mar 3
The world right now is surreal - things have changed very quickly and over a short space of time we have had to adapt our lives to ensure we are keeping people safe. Our lives are now simple, some would say we are living like we have gone back in time.
The actions of humans adjusting their lives to be based at home is proving to have a big impact on many animal species. Towns and cities all over the world are now ghost towns due to people abiding by lockdown rules. Less cars are on the roads; parks, pubs and restaurants are closed - this has allowed nature to reclaim areas that would otherwise be a no-go for many species: wild boar can be seen in towns across Europe, dolphins and seals are being seen in city rivers and the more unusual garden bird species are suddenly becoming regulars in many urban settings.
It is predicted by Europe's biggest wild plant conservation charity, Plantlife, that Covid-19 will have a positive impact on UK bee species. Why? Councils are currently not cutting roadside verges or grassy town areas allowing wildflowers to grow. These have the potential to be conservation areas, however are normally undermined each spring by local councils when roadsides are mowed.
The respite for these mini-meadows is likely to lead to an explosion of colour in the countryside this summer and bring benefits to other pollinators including butterflies, birds and bats.
Why are bees important?
When we think of the benefits that bees bring, honey is always at the top of the list. Yet, honey is only produced by a few species of bees and it is not the most valuable resource they provide. It is estimated that bee pollination services are valued at £137 billion a year.
Bees pollinate a huge range of plants vital to humans and without them, many crops would no longer be viable. Bees, along with other insects, are pollinators of more than 80% of crop species in Europe including most fruits, vegetables and some biofuel crops too.
Tomato plants can only be pollinated by bumblebees and carpenter bees as they carry out ‘buzz pollination' (honeybees cannot do this). The larger size of the bumblebee and carpenter bee means their vibrating bodies shake pollen from the enclosed anthers of tomato plants.
What can you do to help?
Imagine if every gardener nationwide took steps to increase food and habitat for pollinators. Collectively, we would add tens of thousands of acres for pollinators to call home! Best of all, it's easy and rewarding to make your landscape a pollinator haven.The adjustments, individually that we can carry out to help our bees are actually very small ones and some of which save us time!
Don’t mow the lawn as often!
A time saver adjustment to help our bees is the simple act of not mowing the lawn as often! By leaving your lawn to grow for longer common wildflowers such as dandelions, cow parsley and the common daisy will thrive!
Plant native wildflowers!
Bees and wildflowers evolved together - you can be pretty confident that native wildflowers will provide bees with an excellent source of both pollen and nectar.
Create a good bee habitat!
Provide good nesting habitat by preserving a small log pile, areas with dry grasses, wild flowers and reeds. A muddy area will provide essential nesting material for mason bees.
Put up your own bee hotel, there are many bug hotels available to buy which can be positioned with careful planning in your garden. However there are also some very easy methods to make your own bee hotels using empty cans and bamboo canes.
Blue, purple and yellow!
Bees find blue, purple and yellow flowers most appealing so when choosing the plants for your garden, think about this as an option. There are a variety of both long tongued bees and short tongued that would suit a variety of plants with these colour hues.
Lastly, have fun! Enjoy making your garden the perfect habitat for a variety of bee species and then sit back and enjoy the rewards.
ZooLab have made their Bee Workshop resource pack available for FREE public download!
Keep the little ones entertained with fun bee themed learning activities 🐝