WILD BEES such as bumblebees and solitary bees are facing rapid decline. Although it’s good to know that a few simple steps will encourage wild bees to thrive in your garden.
We are increasingly aware of the reduction in our wild bee population and realising the impact of this on many important food crops like apples, potatoes, tomatoes, strawberries, and green beans. About 84% of all our crop and 80% of wildflowers depend upon insect pollination.
Some of the reasons for the reduction in our wild bees include the loss of so many plant species. This is partially linked to the use of herbicides and insecticides. Also, bees need a wide range of landscapes to find their food and shelter. Landscape diversity has been depleted and bees have suffered particularly due to the loss of wildflower meadows, we have lost the vast majority of our ancient wildflower meadows between the years of 1930 1980, and their abundance of nectar-rich flowers.
There is still a huge amount that gardeners can do to help counteract this loss and these measures will help to increase our population of wild bees.
- Include nectar and pollen-rich flowers for every season. Some easy perennials include Lungwort and Geranium in Spring-time. Foxgloves and Ice- plants offer nectar in the Summer months. Whilst Fuchsia and Common Ivy are useful in the Autumn and Shrubby Honeysuckle is a good choice for Winter.
- Create simple nesting sites using bricks, bamboo canes, or by drilling holes in wooden blocks.
- Leave some grass uncut when you mow the lawn. Both long and short grass provide good nesting sites and will encourage different wild bees.
- Provide a water source. If not a pond, a birdbath or even a pot sunken into the ground offers a welcome drink for wild bees.
Just a few simple steps can make a difference to the bee population, providing a fantastic habitat for a wide range of species throughout the year.
For more ideas about nectar and pollen-rich flowers for your garden, take a look at rhs.org.uk/perfectforpollinators
Kim Mackenzy Andrews is a writer, artist, photographer and all-round creative person.
Kim Mackenzy Andrews