We are nothing without bees, and definitely nothing at all without the ‘bee’s knees’. Why? Because bees carry pollen back to the hive to feed their young, in sacs on their legs, and though they may not technically have knees it is a good analogy. The ‘bee’s knees’ was originally used in the 1920’s to describe something as being “excellent” and bees as well as other beneficial insects have been just that for millennia.
Global research suggests that without bees, the human race would also eventually cease to be. Although there is some debate that Physicist Albert Einstein is said to have remarked that “Mankind will not survive the honeybees” it is still a sobering thought. Bee numbers have been declining rapidly over the last few decades and we need them and other beneficial insects such as wasps, hoverflies, butterflies and moths to help pollinate our worldwide food crops.
Contributing factors to the bee’s problems are habitat loss, pesticides, disease and climate change and, according to Friends of the Earth, “Our politicians need to understand the importance of protecting the natural world - and protecting bees as key players in it”.
You could contact your local MP and council by letting them know you are concerned about the decline of bees and see if they have a ‘pollinator action plan’. If not, why not? Maybe you could help with the planning and planting of a bee friendly area in your community.
So what else can we do on a smaller scale, as gardeners, to help the humble and essential bumblebees, honeybees and other important pollinating insects and how do we do it?
Nectar feeds hungry bees whilst pollen is collected to feed the young.
*Planting nectar rich as well as pollen rich flowers in your patch of the planet, wherever you live is a great starting point.
* Bees will travel to find nectar so planting in cities and the countryside is equally important.
*Encouraging friends to plant flower patches for bees is another idea. Do plant swaps with gardening pals to widen the range of bee friendly plants in your garden.
*Neighbours can plant bee friendly plants in each of their gardens so that bees can buzz from one garden to the next collecting the precious nectar and pollen.
*Fruit trees, herbs and vegetables all flower at different times during the year so a mix of all these adds to the long pollinating season for the bee population.
Here are some Brookside Nursery ‘Pollen Patch’ Ideas for you to create an area in your garden, window box or allotment to help attract a wide variety of pollinating bees and beneficial insects.
Wildflowers – Ox-eye Daisy, Clover, native Bluebell, Knapweed and Poppy
Trees – Apple, Pear, Crab Apple, Holly and Willow
Plan to have something in flower every day of the year and select some plants that have single open petals that bees can land on easily and hungry bees can feed on whenever they need to, even in the depths of winter.
Have fun planning your Brookside Nursery Pollen Patch and remember to always “Plant for Bees”.