By Beds SU Sustainability Team
Wednesday, 18 May 2022
This Friday (20 May 2022) is World Bee Day, an opportunity for us all to give thanks for the crucial role that bees play in our ecosystems and a chance for us to consider how we can help them.
Surprisingly, there are over 250 species of bee in the UK alone. While bees seemingly have strength in number, they are highly vulnerable to habitat loss and climate change. Already, 17 species of bee have become regionally extinct in the UK and population numbers in other species are falling.
When you consider the critical role that these pollinators play in our food chain and the food chain of animals in the wild, it is something we should all be concerned about.
How can you help Bees?
Thankfully, there are things that you can do to help both individual bees and bee species. Below, we’ve collated a few ideas for you to try out.
Join the Environmental Society
Human activity has had a profoundly negative effect on the environment and what with bees being a crucial part of our ecosystem, they have particularly suffered.
If you’re concerned about the environment and you want to discuss what is happening and what can be done to help with like-minded individuals, a good place to start is by joining the Environmental Society.
This group, like all of the Beds SU societies, is run by students just like you. Membership is currently free for all UoB students.
Grow bee-friendly plants (with FREE seeds)
Bees need nectar to survive and for their colonies to grow and prosper, so the more bee-friendly plants we nurture, the better.
Different species of bee prefer different plants, but purple flowers like lavender and catmint are a good choice.
You can currently order FREE wildflower seeds from the following organisations:
- Airwick: In exchange for you subscribing to their email marketing list, Airwick will send you a free pack of seeds. Do make sure you read the small print. You can always unsubscribe from the list once you’ve received your seeds.
- Just Bee: This honey-making company offers free seed packs. You just need to pay 99p for delivery.
If you’ve not got a garden, perhaps consider setting up a window box. At the very least, you can have conversations with friends and relatives who do have a garden and encourage or help them to add bee-friendly plants to their green spaces.
The Gardeners World website has plenty more information on which plants are bee-friendly and how you can grow them.
Create an insect hotel
Not all bees live in hives. In fact, a huge majority of the bee species in the UK are solitary (they live on their own).
Many solitary bee species build nests, both to lay their eggs in and to hibernate during Winter. A great way to support these bees is by providing a dedicated structure inside which they can build their nests.
These housings are often referred to as bug or insect hotels. You can buy these off the shelf in hardware stores and garden centres, or you can make your own.
Rehabilitate tired bees with sugar
Many of us have occasionally come across a tired bee lying on the ground. Every single bee is worth saving, so if you are able, you can help to get it back on its feet (or perhaps that should be wings).
Firstly, if the bee in resting in a spot where it might be trodden on, gently encourage the bee onto a leaf and then move it to a safer place. Then, mix two teaspoons of white granulated sugar with one teaspoon of water and place this mixture near the bee. Do not offer the bee honey. Hopefully the bees will start to consume this sugary mixture.
It’ll take some time for the bee to get its strength back, so don’t expect immediate results.
Eat sustainable honey sparingly
If you’re a honey eater, do think carefully about the type of honey you buy. Seek out local bee keepers who keep their bees sustainably and position the hives away from crops that are sprayed with pesticides.
The more you buy sustainable honey, the less of a demand there is on mass produced honey that is both harmful to local ecosystems and produces way more carbon into the atmosphere.
According the the WWF, eating less honey is also beneficial. Cutting human honey consumption will ultimately help bee populations the most.
Take action against pesticides
Pesticides kill bees and other insects that are important to our ecosystems. Many environmental campaign groups say that not enough is being done to curb the use of chemicals on crops and are calling on the UK government and other organisations to ban/reduce their use.
If you agree, you can take action by getting involved with the campaigns and by signing the petitions. Here are a few to get you started: