Let’s Help the Bees!

Bees: we all need them, but often forget them. For several years their numbers have declined rapidly due to a series of invading viruses. This year, however, I’ve noticed a lot more of them buzzing about.

This is good news for us all. More bees means more flowers are pollinated, which in turn means more fruit on the trees, more berries in the hedgerows…and of course more delicious honey!

A Honey Bee inside one of the giant poppies in my parents’ garden

We can all do our bit to help the bees. Window boxes with flowers can make all the difference, helping the bees find pollen without having to travel so far. Even if you live in a high-rise flat, there is usually a ledge outside the window on which a small tub with a few flowers can be placed. All you have to do is remember to water it in the summer.

If you are lucky enough to have a garden, why not plant some flowering shrubs or other plants whose flowers will attract the bees?

At this time of year bees (especially the big bumbles) often blunder through open windows and then find it hard to get back out. If this happens, don’t panic. No bee will harm you unless you threaten it, or perhaps tread on it by mistake!

Take a piece of card or paper and a pot of some kind (an empty yoghurt pot for instance). Wait for the bee to settle. Walk over to it and place the pot over it gently but firmly (making sure you don’t trap a leg in the process). If the bee is on a vertical surface like a window you can still do this. Just make sure you hold the pot down firmly once you have the bee inside.

At this point the sound of the buzzing will increase dramatically, but don’t let this scare you. It’s just that the bee is not used to being cooped up.

Now you have the bee inside the pot, lift one edge ever so slightly (not enough to let the bee escape). Take the paper/cardboard and slide it under the pot. Hey presto, you’ll find that the bee is safely inside the pot and is none the worse for wear.

You can then take the pot, with the paper held firmly to it, back to the open window or door. Once there, lift the pot away from the paper and enjoy the pleasure of seeing the bee fly off unharmed, knowing you have helped some flowers to pollinate that might not have done – and added some more honey to a nearby comb!


7 thoughts on “Let’s Help the Bees!

  1. Very interesting! Are there plants that bees prefer, or will any flowering plant attract them?

    • Emily Heath says:

      Not any flowering plant will do. Some sold in garden centres have been bred to look good to humans, but don’t actually produce nectar or pollen. Others have been bred to produce lots of petals which get in the way of bees getting in (such as fussy roses).

      Blue and purple flowers tend to be popular โ€“ lavender, borage, heather. Herbs are also well-visited and have the bonus of being sweet smelling and good for your cooking, e.g. rosemary, marjoram, mints, chives, thyme. If you have a tiny garden or even just a windowsill, herbs are ideal for growing in pots. There’s a good blog post listing bee-friendly flowers here -http://www.talkingwithbees.com/beekeeping/bee-friendly-plants.

    • essitolling says:

      See Emily’s excellent reply below. One other thing is to plant wild flowers – whatever is indigenous to your area. If you have a grassy area, natural clovers and trefoils are excellent. For big gardens, buddleia (not sure of the spelling on that one). You can also get dwarf varieties of this for planting in pots. A side effect of planting wild flowers and herbs is that you’ll get more butterflies too, which feed and lay their eggs only in/on wild plants (the hybrids don’t work for them). You’ll also get more hoverflies, which eat aphids – increasing the health of your fowering plants, including any veggies/fruit that you have! So, it’s a win-win all round.

  2. […] Let’s Help the Bees! (essitolling.wordpress.com) […]

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